Just yesterday, NFL Network senior draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah published his second edition of his first-round mock draft, tabbing the Pittsburgh Steelers to take Tennessee OT Darnell Wright at #17 overall.
Per Josh Carney who wrote about Jeremiah’s selection of Wright for the Steelers, stating that while the desire to revamp the OL by Jeremiah is commendable, Wright doesn’t necessarily fit what the Steelers need after RT Chukwuma Okorafor played well in 2022.
Seeing as the selection of Wright is following up Jeremiah’s selection of Florida guard O’Cyrus Torrence in his initial mock draft for the Steelers, he appears dead set on the team doing a complete makeover this offseason on the offensive line. In fact, he said as much in the latest edition of the Move The Sticks podcast where Jeremiah spoke with Lance Zierlein to talk about his mock draft and the current state of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“To me, I think that offensive line is going to get revamped,” Jeremiah said on the podcast. “How many new starters that is… two or three, but I think that this is a good draft to do it.”
The offensive line in Pittsburgh has been a controversial talking point for much of the last two years after Pittsburgh experienced a mass exodus of their veterans on the OL in 2020. The OL struggled mightily last year and experienced similar struggles to start the season in 2022 before showing growth as the unit as well as the whole team surged down the stretch. Pittsburgh added C Mason Cole and RG James Daniels who played well in their first year with the team while Okorafor showed steady improvement as well. While the left side of the OL has its issues with LT Dan Moore Jr. and LG Kevin Dotson being inconsistent, they that had positive flashes to close out the 2022 campaign.
Still, if Daniel Jeremiah had his way, Pittsburgh would heavily invest into the trenches, targeting an OT with their first selection at #17 overall, then target either a CB or IOL with their first pick at the top of the second round.
“What a trade… what a heist that was in the Chase Claypool trade with the Bears that gives them pick #32.” Jeremiah said. “But, if you say we want a couple of offensive linemen or a corner, I think it makes more sense to get the tackle first, whoever that tackle is, because I think that you are still going to have corner options and interior offensive line options at #32 that you are going to really like. I don’t like the tackle options so much at #32 at that point in time. That’s why I think you go tackle first, hit the priority there, then come back and get your interior lineman or your corner at #32.”
The Steelers committed highway robbery with the Bears earlier in the season, acquiring the 32nd pick for Claypool who has flopped thus far in Chicago. That pick carries immense vale and allows the Steelers to go a plethora of different way at #17 knowing they essentially have another first round pick with the top pick in the second round.
Still, it remains to be seen if Pittsburgh would completely overhaul their OL as it is currently constructed. They seem pleased with the contributions of Cole, Daniels, and Okorafor thus far, suggesting that their jobs are likely safe for 2023. As for Moore and Dotson, the Steelers stuck with them through the highs and lows of last two seasons, allowing them to experience trial by fire as they have shown frustrating inconsistencies at times, but also subtle signs of growth.
I posted an article a while ago depicting why I think Pittsburgh may run it back with the same starting five in 2023 which includes a conversation I had with former Steelers OG Ramon Foster who had heard the same thing from his connections with the team as of the Senior Bowl. Should a Peter Skoronski or Paris Johnson Jr. fall to #17 and present a notable upgrade over Dan Moore Jr. at LT, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Pittsburgh make that move and look to address CB or IOL at #32 with Emmanuel Forbes or Andrew Vorhees to throw out a couple of names.
Still, this team’s needs along the front seven of the defense are hard to ignore as we sit here today as Pittsburgh needs to find starters at NT, DE, and ILB given their pending free agents. Free agency will answer a lot of these questions for us in the next couple of months, perhaps Pittsburgh may look to add much needed depth to the OL in the middle rounds like Alex Kozora suggested in his recent article rather than remaking a unit that ended 2022 on a high note at the expect of not addressing the defense. The OL needs to improve going forward, but I don’t think we should expect an overhaul like Jeremiah mentions should happen.