Steelers Draft Strategy: Why using top-50 pick on offensive line would be mistake
Nevertheless, going into the 2023 off-season, media experts and fans expressed a desire for the Pittsburgh Steelers to invest a high draft pick on an offensive lineman. This became a relatively ubiquitous narrative despite the offensive line returning all five starters on a line that showed demonstrable improvement. Granted, this narrative primarily arose from a desire to improve their pass protection, which is fair.
However, I still disagree with this narrative for two reasons. First, introducing numerous new players risks ruining the chemistry among the offensive linemen and stunting/ruining the development of the younger players.
Second, the Steelers have too many dire needs at important positions (cornerback, interior defensive lineman, inside linebacker) to use one of their first three picks at a position where they are solid and improving.
My first caveat to my argument is that this team needed offensive line depth when the season ended. Luckily, general manager Omar Khan and his right-hand man Andy Weidl solved the issue of depth at interior offensive linemen by signing Nate Herbig and Isaac Seumalo, the latter of which will most likely replace Kevin Dotson at left guard.
But this team still needs depth at offensive tackle. Dan Moore and Chukwuma Okorafor are the only offensive tackles on the roster. I anticipate Khan and Weidl finding some bodies in free agency before the draft. Regardless, Pittsburgh should still invest a draft pick at offensive tackle to develop a younger player to be at least a backup and, at most, a long-term replacement option for Okorafor or Moore.
My second is that I fully understand this team will most likely not be as healthy as they were in 2022. The Steelers found rarified air in starting the same five offensive linemen in every game during the 2022 season. By the laws of natural regression and luck, the odds of that happening again are astronomically high. This speaks to my previous point of this team needing depth and possibly finding a swing tackle in free agency that can start in a pinch.
If Moore or Okorafor were to go down for an extended time due to injury, I would prefer not starting a rookie on a team fighting for a playoff spot. So, in general, I fully understand the need to spend a draft pick on an offensive tackle for depth and development purposes. However, I will now dive into why the Steelers' draft strategy should not include an offensive tackle in the first two rounds.