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Steelers All 90: Continuity Has Given Chukwuma Okorafor Comfort at RT



Steelers Chukwuma Okorafor
Pittsburgh Steelers right tackle Chukwuma Okorafor at minicamp, June 17, 2021. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

The entire offensive line struggled at times for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2022 and right tackle Chukwuma Okorafor was no different. While he did clean up some of his penalty issues, he was the lowest-graded starting offensive lineman on the team.

In fact, not only was Okorafor the lowest-rated offensive lineman by Pro Football Focus in regard to total offense (61.2), he had the lowest run blocking (55.7) and passing blocking grades (62.8), making it the triple crown of subpar play.

The thing about Okorafor that is so attractive to the Steelers is that he understands his mistakes and works as hard as he can to perfect his craft which in his mind will keep him in the league for years to come.

“I just try to do my job,” Okorafor said. “I am still young, and I still know I can improve. Literally after every game, I say, ‘I know I was bad at this, I can do better at that.’ So I think I have a few more years to go, a long road left in my career.”

When the team signed Okorafor to a three-year extension prior to the 2022 season, each party committed to the other for at least two of the three seasons and according to Okorafor, this is the place he wants to stay and be for the foreseeable future. He did acknowledge that he understands the business side of the NFL and that ultimately anything can happen.

“I did that because I wanted to be here and I wanted to play here, so hopefully I am,” said Okorafor. “Everyone knows what might happen or what might not happen, so we will see how things play out.”

He is set to cost roughly $13 million in cap space this season and with the amount of dead money that the team would incur, it would be mindless of the team to try to move on from him now. Okorafor started all 17 games in 2022 and has started 50 of the team’s last 51 games dating back to 2020 so he has played at a level high enough to keep his job since then and he expects to only get better due to the continuity of him playing right tackle.

“Just now knowing that I am established at right tackle, it’s become routine,” Okorafor said. “A couple years ago it was different that I had to play both sides and didn’t know what I might be playing the next day or next game. Having that continuity has made me better. Now, I know how to be the best right tackle I can be.”

Nonetheless, given the team’s offseason moves, Okorafor is not going anywhere in 2023. The team drafted a tackle, Broderick Jones, in the first round of the 2023 NFL draft but he plays left tackle and will eventually push Dan Moore Jr. for his starting spot. Okorafor will start the season as the Steelers’ starting right tackle and unless Moore can prove that he can be a better option there once Jones is ready, the right tackle position is Okorafor’s in 2023.

76 • Chukwuma Okorafor, Tackle, Western Michigan
6-foot-6, 320 pounds, 25 years old, 6th Season

Acquired: The Steelers drafted Okorafor out of Western Michigan with the 92nd overall pick in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

Last YearIn 2022, Okorafor started all 17 games at right tackle for the Steelers. He played a career-high 1,159 snaps on offense and straightened out his penalty issues. He allowed three sacks and committed just four penalties all season.

Pro Football Focus gave him his highest game grade in Week 2 against the New England Patriots. He earned a rating of 84.6 as he played 59 snaps and only allowed one quarterback pressure.

Steelers OL Chukwuma Okorafor

PITTSBURGH, PA – AUGUST 17: Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Chukwuma Okorafor (76) pass blocks during the NFL football game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Pittsburgh Steelers on August 17, 2019, at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA. (Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire)

CareerAfter the Steelers selected Okorafor in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft, he appeared in 13 games as a rookie and logged three starts; two at left tackle and one at right tackle. In his 156 snaps, Okorafor allowed one sack in 2018. His NFL starting debut came in Week 1 against the Cleveland Browns but only played 17 snaps.

In 2019, Okorafor was still just a depth piece as he played and started in just one game in place of an injured Ramon Foster. In that Week 10 game against the Los Angeles Rams, Okorafor logged 73 snaps and allowed one sack.

Okorafor stepped into the starting right tackle job in 2020 and started 15 of his 16 appearances at the position. This came after Zach Banner tore his ACL in Week 1 against the New York Giants. Okorafor played 1,033 offensive snaps in 2020 as he allowed three sacks and committed just five penalties.

In 2021, Okorafor kept his starting job at right tackle and started all 16 games as he played 1,078 snaps. While Okorafor kept his sacks allowed relatively low (2), he committed a career-high 11 penalties. Pro Football Focus did give Okorafor the highest rating of his NFL career in 2021 as he earned a 63.6 offensive rating.

In total, Okorafor played a total of 63 games and recorded 52 starts over his first five seasons in the NFL.

Year GP GS Snaps Sacks Allowed Penalties PFF Rating
2018 13 3 156 1 1 50.8
2019 1 1 73 1 1 58.3
2020 16 15 1,033 3 5 57.5
2021 16 16 1,078 2 11 63.6
2022 17 17 1,159 3 4 61.2


CollegeOkorafor was a highly-regarded offensive lineman recruit in high school and had offers from some prestigious schools such as Ohio State, Florida, and Oklahoma but decided to commit to Western Michigan due to the school’s proximity to his house and they promised him playing time as a true freshman.

In 2014, Okorafor played in 12 games at right tackle as a true freshman. Okorafor played 82 offensive snaps and did not allow a single sack.

As a sophomore in 2015, Okorafor started all 12 games at right tackle and okayed 845 offensive snaps. He excelled in pass blocking but struggled with penalties in 2015. He only allowed two sacks but was called for 14 penalties. Okorafor helped the blocking effort in three separate games that saw Broncos players rush for 300 or more yards.

In 2016, Okorafor shifted to left tackle and started all 14 games for the Broncos while playing a career-high 872 offensive snaps. He allowed four sacks and committed seven penalties in his first season at left tackle. In addition, Okorafor earned first-team All-MAC honors in 2016.

As a senior, Okorafor started all 12 games of the season at left tackle and played 828 offensive snaps. Pro Football Focus gave Okorafor the highest rating of his collegiate career in 2017 as he earned a 79.8 offensive rating. Following the season, Okorafor earned All-American honors and was named first-team All-MAc for the second straight season.

In total, Okorafor appeared in 50 games at Western Michigan while starting 38 games. In his 38 starts, 26 came at left tackle and 12 were at right tackle.

Year Position GP GS Snaps Sacks Allowed Penalties PFF Rating
2014 RT 12 0 82 0 0 60.3
2015 RT 12 12 845 2 14 65.8
2016 LT 14 14 872 4 7 69.4
2017 LT 12 12 828 2 10 79.8

Salary cap and future: Okorafor is entering the second year of his three-year extension that he signed prior to last season. In 2023, Okorafor will cost $13.08 million against the Steelers’ cap space. Of the $13.08 million, Okorafor is owed $6 million in base salary and $7.08 million in bonus money.

Okorafor is signed with the team through the end of the 2024 season when he will become an unrestricted free agent.

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