Kevin Colbert: Daniels signings, Cole ‘comforting’ with OL interior options, ‘diminishing desire’ to add via draft

The Pittsburgh Steelers had one of the worst offensive lines in football in 2021. They left the 2022 NFL Draft without taking an offensive lineman. But they make two major signings in that area in free agency in March, as well as a key re-signing, and that has provided the team with plenty of comfort in that regard compared to the other spots on the roster.

The Steelers signed James Daniels to a three-year, $26.5 million deal and Mason Cole to a three-year, $15.5 million deal. Both have experience at both guard and center, although Daniels has by this stage worked more guard, and Cole has indicated his preference at center. They also re-signed right tackle Chukwuma Okorafor.

When we entered free agency, we had hoped thatsaid general manager Kevin Colbert after the draft on the possibility of adding important pieces to the interior. “To come away with two guys who can play center and then have Kendrick Green in the same talent pool is heartwarming because you have three guys who can play center and guard, and collectively that’s nine years of service. that we have of this group”.

Green was their third-round draft pick a year ago. He started almost every game before getting injured at the end of the year, after which he only dressed in an emergency with JC Hassenauer starting. Like Daniels and Cole, Green is equally capable of playing guard or center, and in fact primarily played guard in college.

“It dampened the desire to add some interior to that, and there’s only certain things you can do,” Colbert continued, regarding the offensive interior being considered in the draft. “Again, if we had more choice you might add more players, but we felt we wanted to add more players in different places.”

In addition to Daniels, Cole, Green and Hassenauer, the Steelers also have guard Kevin Dotson, who started on the left side last season but missed nearly half of the year through injury. John Leglue is another holdover from the end of last season. He started the stretch in place of Dotson while on the reserve/injured list. They probably already have more inside linemen than the team will make.

If they were to draft the offensive line, it would have been better suited to go outside, where they could use a more infallible quality starter, as well as depth. They left Zach Banner this offseason, leaving Joe Haeg as the swing tackle and presumably Chaz Green as the number four option. It’s something less than inspiring, coupled with their bet on growing Dan Moore Jr. at left tackle.

As Colbert said, however, you only have a limited number of pieces to put your puzzle together, and there are plenty of areas to fill. They could always find a way to add another tackle in the offseason.

Betty K. Park