The 2022 season for the Pittsburgh Steelers is going to be all about change. Not only did 22-year NFL front office veteran, Kevin Colbert, step down as general manager, but the face of the franchise, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, announced his retirement after 18 seasons under center. Inevitably, this means we will be watching a new brand of Steelers football showcased each and every week. Although Head Coach Mike Tomlin is still securely at the helm of this football team, what this upcoming season is going to look like for all of Steeler Nation is left in question.
The change of quarterback will likely garner much of the focus once training camp starts as first round draft selection, Kenny Pickett, will be competing against former 2017 first round pick of the Chicago Bears, Mitch Trubisky, for who will get the keys to this Matt Canada run offense in 2022. But what about the guys protecting them? New general manager, Omar Khan has been busy making off-season additions this year, and the Steelers have not shied away from adding potential key players to an offensive line that ranked 30th in total rushing offense last season.
The two new free agent signees were center Mason Cole (Arizona Cardinals) and guard James Daniels (Chicago Bears). Both come to Pittsburgh with a full four years of NFL experience under their belts with over 87 total NFL starts between the two of them. It is most likely safe to assume that both Daniels and Cole come to Pittsburgh with the idea of them being a part of the starting 2022 offensive line for this upcoming season. If that is the case, there are a few players left on the roster from last year’s starting offensive line, who could find themselves in a situation where their position is taken by someone else.
One of those positions is left guard where we see two starters from last year’s group, in a potential battle for the starting LG spot this season. With the signing of Daniels and Cole, the Steelers have allocated around $41.5 million dollars between these two players, which means the organization has a plan for them to start next season. That means the center position, which was occupied by Kendrick Green last season, will be filled by Cole this upcoming year after signing a three-year deal this off-season. Right now, with Daniels and Cole taking starting spots on the line, there is only one “hole” to fill and that would be left guard.
As it looks now, our offensive line is structured as such: Dan Moore Jr. will be at left tackle, Mason Cole will be center, James Daniels will be right guard and Chukwuma Okorafor will be manning the right tackle position. Although he played center last year, Green’s natural position from college at Illinois is guard, and it’s assumed that with the second-year lineman’s struggles at center in 2021, he will be moved to guard where he would be in a battle with former starter back in 2020, Kevin Dotson for the starting LG spot this upcoming year. A competition that Dotson feels he is ready to handle.
“They didn’t tell me until I got here (for OTA’s), but I understand it.” said Dotson. “They feel like they need to do what they need to do. I’m going to do what I need to do.”
“I love competition. It definitely brings out the best in you and I want to see the best in myself.”
Both Green and Dotson are coming off years in which their production was very limited. Obviously, Green’s inexperience was showcased last season and Dotson’s injury was a hurdle that kept him off the depth chart for much of last season. These two warriors battling it out can only do good for this Steelers football team, as they hope to get back to their roots of attacking defenses with a rush first mentality, and Dotson believes we have the right players to piece together.
“Everybody we brought in is confident enough to do their job and I know they can do it at a high level. They have the idea, the knowledge, the capability to do everything.”
Who do you think will win the battle for the starting LG position this upcoming year? Comment below!