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PFF Justifiably Ranks Steelers OL 30th In NFL, Ahead Of Just Bears And Seahawks

Eric Hartline / USA TODAY Sports

PFF Justifiably Ranks Steelers OL 30th In NFL, Ahead Of Just Bears And Seahawks

Pittsburgh Steelers training camp is near and after that, the preseason and regular season. As a result, it’s officially the time of the year for making predictions and lists before things kickoff. Pro Football Focus, PFF, recently ranked 32 offensive lines in the NFL, in addition to putting them into tiers. The Steelers offensive line slotted in at No. 30 out of the 32 teams, only ahead of the Chicago Bears and Seattle Seahawks.

This put them in the sixth tier, the lowest, described as the “problematic” offensive lines. The Las Vegas Raiders, ranked 29th, also joined the Steelers, Bears, and Seahawks in the lowest tier. PFF acknowledged some of the improvements made by the Steelers, but admit they still have a ways to go.

“The Steelers do at least have a solid guard duo along with some youth that should improve. That being said, the bar was so low a year ago that a huge leap for 2022 seems unrealistic. Not a single one of Pittsburgh’s returning offensive line starters earned an overall grade over 65.0 in 2021.”

Steelers James Daniels

James Daniels at an off-season workout April 27th on the South Side. (CAITLYN EPES / STEELERS)

To put it nicely, the Steelers offensive line was simply awful last season, and PFF is not wrong in that aspect. Some thought they would look to the draft for reinforcements, but instead, the front office made a few free agent signings. This was unconventional for how the black and gold typically do things, but it’s a new era. The solid guard duo that PFF was referring to is LG Kevin Dotson and RG James Daniels. Dotson is the presumed starter on the left side, but Kendrick Green will provide competition there throughout camp.

Daniels was the big splash signing of the off-season, as he was signed to a three-year, $26.5 million deal after four seasons with the Bears. Beyond Daniels, the Steelers signed veteran center Mason Cole to a three-year, $15.75 million contract. Tackle Chukwuma Okorafor was re-signed to a long-term contract as well at three years, $29.25 million. His nearly $10 million per year deal was a bit surprising, but the Steelers front office clearly has trust in his abilities to continue to improve. The offensive line rebuild isn’t done, but the team made significant progress over the off-season.

Impact of Steelers’ James Daniels

As for why the Steelers should be ranked higher than 30th, it can’t be emphasized enough how important Daniels’ addition will be. Additionally, knocking Kendrick Green out of the starting lineup is a bit of addition by subtraction if you will, even if Mason Cole isn’t necessarily very good. Green will now be able to grow a bit more and mature, as opposed to being forced into action as a raw, unfinished product like he was in his rookie season. A position change to guard may certainly help his future prospects, too. Newly-hired offensive line coach Pat Meyer will hopefully help with these. Last year’s OL coach, Adrian Klemm, departed for the same position at Oregon.

Steelers Pat Meyer

Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line coach Pat Meyer instructs during OTA drills at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, Wednesday, June 1, 2022.(Karl Roser/ Pittsburgh Steelers)

It’s reasonable to expect jumps from each of the team’s starting tackles, including sophomore Dan Moore Jr., as that was the one part of the line that remains unchanged. Perhaps the biggest X-factor along the offensive line is Kevin Dotson, as no one really knows what to expect from him. He showed flashes as a rookie in 2020, but then showed up to camp out of shape last season. It led to an injury-plagued year, but the talent is there. It’s just a matter of him putting in the work.

 

What do you guys think of this ranking? Should the Steelers be higher, or is it correct? Who is your X-factor along the offensive line in order for them to improve? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!

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Credit to my dad, I have been a lifelong Steelers fan. I have fond memories of watching the Steelers win two Super Bowls when I was a little kid. I have only been to 1 Steelers game in my life, which was in Kansas City. That was the notorious game where Antonio Brown pinned it against his chest down the sidelines for a touchdown. I hope to get to Heinz Field some day! I graduated from Iowa State University and look forward to growing as a writer with #SteelerNation!

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