The Pittsburgh Steelers had a less than stellar performance from the offensive line a season ago. Coming off an abysmal year, there are still many that don’t have faith in some of the big guys up front for the Steelers offense, even though the Steelers added two veteran maulers in center, Mason Cole, and right guard, James Daniels. Some would say the biggest question up front is right tackle, Chukwuma Okorafor, who the team re-signed this off-season to a three-year deal.
Others, including former Steelers guard, Trai Essex, is confident in what the Steelers have up front this season.
“We got a young O-Line. I am excited about the development that Dan Moore Jr. showed last year at that critical position at left tackle. I think he’s going to get better from here on out. On top of that, if Dotson can come back healthy, that left side is going to be good, especially now with ‘Chuks’ [Okorafor] being at his natural position,” Essex exclaimed.
“So I’m confident in our front-five, even still with J.C. [Hassenauer] and John Leglue getting experience last year, we got guys behind them who have gotten some snaps which we didn’t have last year. Last year, we had a very young crew that had almost no experience outside of Chuks, so this year is completely different. We have experience up front and guys backing them up that also have experience,” Essex admitted.
One of the obvious naysayers of the Steelers offensive line thinks the team needs to upgrade at least one of the positions up front before the start of the season.
In a recent article from The Draft Network, writer Justin Melo lists three teams as possible trade partners for the Chicago Bears‘ second year tackle, Teven Jenkins. The Steelers were one of those teams floated as a potential suitor for the feisty tackle’s services. Although this is pure SPECULATION, reports have surfaced that the Bears are fielding offers for Jenkins.
“Pittsburgh’s offensive line had holes last season and they’re entering the 2022 campaign with similar concerns,” Melo stated in his article. “Dan Moore Jr. appears set to start at left tackle for the second consecutive season after struggling as a rookie. The former fourth-round selection may not be Pittsburgh’s long-term answer on the blindside. Chukwuma Okorafor returns to start at right tackle. Okorafor didn’t enjoy the most fruitful campaign in 2021 either, getting called for 11 penalties, per Pro Football Focus. Bringing in another developmental option such as Jenkins would be wise given the question marks that are present.
There have been questions about Jenkins’ maturity and overall approach, but Steelers head coach, Mike Tomlin has successfully managed difficult personalities before. Tomlin’s ability to keep Antonio Brown in check for several seasons is now viewed as a resume-building accomplishment. The Steelers also drafted wide receiver George Pickens this year, who had similar maturity questions coming out of college. Working under Tomlin’s tutelage may represent the best-case scenario for Jenkins.”
Melo is obviously implying that the team should bring in Jenkins to compete for Okorafor’s spot at right tackle. Jenkins is fierce, but he’s been unavailable quite a bit in his short NFL career. He missed a total of 11 games last year due to a back injury that required surgery. It probably wouldn’t be the best move to send draft capital to the Bears for an unsure commodity like Jenkins.