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2022 NFL Draft

Will 2022 Be the Year Steelers Snap First-Round Tackle Draft Streak?

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Steelers GM Kevin Colbert

INDIANAPOLIS — It has been a very long time since the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted a first-round tackle, but 2022 might be the year that trend breaks.

The team last took a tackle in the first round way back in 1996, when Jamain Stephens was the team’s pick. That didn’t go so well, as Stephens was a notable bust for the team, but it came five years before Kevin Colbert joined the team, so that’s not the reason the Steelers have been seemingly avoiding the most important position on the offensive line for two and a half decades.

In fact, Colbert says there is no reason, that it’s just been happenstance that the Steelers haven’t looked for a first-round tackle in 25 years.

“(Second-round pick) Marvel Smith was the highest we had taken back in 2000,” Colbert said Tuesday. “We never go in saying we’re taking a position or not taking a position. We’re just trying to take the best players.”

In that regard, this could be the year. There are three top tackles in the draft class: Alabama’s Evan Neal, NC States Ikem Ekwonu and Mississippi State’s Charles Cross. Some draft prognosticators have Cross falling to the Steelers at No. 20, but even if he doesn’t, the second wave of tackles that includes Northern Iowa’s Trevor Penning and Central Michigan’s Bernhard Raimann could be available when the Steelers pick.

With Dan Moore Jr. struggling as a rookie in 2021 and Chukwuma Okorafor set to enter free agency, the Steelers’ needs could line up with the talent available at the position.

“We’ll look at every position,” Colbert said. “There’s good quality at that position in this year’s draft for sure. As in recent years, the tackle position has had unusual depth. This year is no different.”

Click for more coverage from Alan Saunders, Nick Farabaugh and Dan Angell, live from Indianapolis at the 2022 NFL Combine.

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