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Steelers OT Dan Moore Jr.’s Value Relies on His Development

If the Pittsburgh Steelers want to find Dan Moore Jr. and his value, it is all about his development across the OL.

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Steelers LT Dan Moore
Pittsburgh Steelers tackle Dan Moore Jr., Nov. 12, 2021. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

With voluntary OTAs underway in Pittsburgh, we are getting our first initial viewings of the Steelers new-look offensive line. After selecting Troy Fautanu with the 20th overall selection in the 2024 NFL Draft, there’s plenty of excitement around his early inclusion to the trenches. With that in mind, incumbent left tackle Dan Moore Jr. is in no hurry to hand the gig away to the rookie without putting up a fight, and rightfully so. The fourth-year pro took all of his snaps at left tackle with the first-team offensive.

When you take a tackle in the first round, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the selected player will be inserted into the lineup immediately, as we all saw with Broderick Jones last season. Still, there’s a legitimate reason that the Steelers drafted tackles in the first round of consecutive drafts. Last season, Dan Moore Jr. allowed 56 pressures in pass protection, second-most among all left tackles according to PFF. He’s been afforded three seasons to prove that he’s the undoubted long-term answer on the blind side but hasn’t displayed enough consistency to erase doubts about that proposition.

Jones and Fautanu are the future of the Steelers offensive line and it’s not a matter of “if” we see them together. It’s just a question of how soon. The Washington tackle comes into the league with plenty of experience in pure drop-back situations, having protected the blind side of Michael Penix Jr. for several seasons in the Huskies vertical-based passing attack, which left him on an island frequently.  There are no such things as perfect prospects but Fautanu is further along from a technical perspective than Jones was coming out of Georgia the prior cycle.

So, where does that leave Moore in this equation? Ideally, the Steelers can utilize him as a swing tackle and top reserve in the event of injuries. The offensive line is a spot where players are undergoing so much physical punishment which makes having the requisite depth that much more pertinent. There’s just one problem with that. Moore has been very transparent about not feeling comfortable on the right side.

Pittsburgh Steelers OL Dan Moore Jr.

Pittsburgh Steelers OL Dan Moore Jr. at the team’s OTAs, May 21, 2024 – Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

“I don’t know,” Moore said on the prospect of playing right tackle. “I would probably feel the exact same way I felt last year. Not everyone can play both sides. The people who can are really blessed and athletic people. But I do whatever they tell me.”

He points out that switching sides isn’t nearly as easy as Madden makes it seem because your entire movement pattern is inversed. This has previously been described to me as learning how to play left-handed. As Moore noted, some offensive linemen are so athletic that it’s second nature for them to switch back and forth without sacrificing their performance. For others, it may never feel natural for them to the point where they feel comfortable. A good example is former Steelers guard Kevin Dotson, who admitted that he never felt like himself in Pittsburgh because he was playing on the left side of the line.

Over the past three seasons, Moore has registered over 3,000 snaps at left tackle and the only exposure that he’s had to playing on the right side was a brief preseason stint as a rookie. Even dating back to his college days at Texas A&M, he was aligned solely on the left side of the line.

Even though Moore is adamant about being a left tackle, the Steelers must get him some work on the right side this summer. There’s a real benefit to having an experienced swing tackle, who is always a good teammate and mentor for younger players, on the roster. But to really reap those benefits, the Steelers coaching staff, led by offensive line coach Pat Meyer, is going to have to force him out of his comfort zone in the spirit of development.

The Steelers invested heavily in Fautanu and Jones, believing that the talented duo has the skill to be the anchor points of a good offensive line shortly. Even though he’s somewhat of a replacement-level player or baseline starter type, Moore still has value. But that value is slightly tied to the fact that he’ll be able to provide competency on both sides of the line. How Pittsburgh navigates the development process for all three of their tackles remains one of the more interesting storylines of the summer.