Sports Illustrated Deems Steelers Offensive Line Position Of Weakness

Yesterday, ESPN analyst Louis Riddick expressed concern with Pittsburgh’s offensive line during an appearance on The Rich Eisen Show. He’s not alone in that sentiment, as Gilberto Manzano of Sports Illustrated named the offensive line a position of weakness for the team heading into 2023.

“The Steelers must be banking on first-round rookie Broderick Jones to have a fast start as the starting left tackle, given that there’s plenty of uncertainty across the offensive line,” Manzano wrote. “Center Mason Cole, guard James Daniels and right tackle Chukwuma Okorafor struggled as starters in 2022, which led to a lackluster rushing attack. Pittsburgh also added guard Isaac Seumalo in free agency for reinforcements.”

I’m not necessarily sure what games Manzano was watching if he thought Cole and Daniels struggled in 2022. The offensive line was spotty during the first half of the season, but they were among the better running teams during the second half of the season and a large part of that was due to the interior of the line with Cole and Daniels. Okorafor wasn’t great but he wasn’t awful either, so right off the bat I’m not really in line with his thought process.

The Steelers have weaknesses. But the offensive line is far from their most glaring. Slot corner is a weakness right now, with Chandon Sullivan looking like the potential Week 1 starter. Inside linebacker could be considered a weakness, given it’s a pretty big question mark how the completely revamped group is going to perform. At a minimum, both those spots are more unsettled than the Steelers’ offensive line.

Cole and Daniels are both still young, as they’ll be 27 and 26, respectively, for the majority of the season (Daniels turns 26 a few days after Week 1). So there’s still progression and room for growth, but I don’t agree with the assertion that they struggled last season anyway. So unless they regress, at worst they’ll be just as reliable as they were last season, but I wouldn’t be surprised if both got better with another year in offensive line coach Pat Meyer’s system.

Given that Pittsburgh’s line has been so suspect for so long, it’s fair to question it. But I find it a little bit lazy to just jump and point to it as a weakness, especially given the investments the front office has made over the last two offseasons to improve the position. Signing Daniels, Cole and Isaac Seumalo to bolster the interior while trading up to draft Broderick Jones in the first round is going to make the offensive line a strength, rather than a weakness.

While it might not be a top-flite line right off the bat in 2023, I bet they’re still in the top half of the league. That’s not a weakness, and I don’t think the line will be nearly as problematic in 2023 as it’s been over the last few seasons. Time will tell, but I’m not all that concerned about the offensive line this year.

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