Latest On Steelers’ Offensive Line

The Steelers offensive line in 2023 was pretty decent, allowing the ninth-least sacks in the NFL and ranking as the 13th-best rushing offense. Still, Pittsburgh opted to make a number of moves towards an upgrade on their offensive front for the 2024 season. In fact, the Steelers utilized their first two draft picks (and three of seven) this year on linemen, and all three could be in line to start as rookies.

The only position that lost a starter on the line this year was center. The team watched their starter of the last two seasons, Mason Cole, depart in free agency. Cole graded out as the league’s 29th-best center out of 36 graded players at the position last season, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). They have a couple options to replace Cole, including veteran Nate Herbig. Herbig hasn’t played center much at the college or NFL level, but he has versatile experience all over the line and could be utilized there in a pinch. The favorite to start, though, is the second-round rookie out of West Virginia, Zach Frazier.

At guard things are a bit more interesting. Like Frazier, fourth-round rookie guard out of South Dakota State Mason McCormick is currently slotted to start on the depth chart of the team’s website. McCormick is listed as the starting left guard, presumably because that’s the only position he played in college. The team’s returning left guard, Isaac Seumalo, graded out as the team’s best offensive lineman in 2023, though, per PFF. So, unless the team benches their top returning lineman, Seumalo or McCormick will need to move over to the right side to compete with James Daniels. Seumalo has experience starting at right guard in the past, so it makes the most sense to move him over.

At tackle, the Steelers utilized their first-round pick to bring in Washington lineman Troy Fautanu. Many projected Fautanu’s skillset to fit best at guard or center at the NFL-level, though he spent most of his time at tackle during college in Seattle. Pittsburgh believes that he has the ability to stay at tackle and start in the NFL. Pundits predict that last year’s rookie first-round pick Broderick Jones will remain at right tackle, where he played in 2023, putting Fautanu at left tackle to replace Dan Moore Jr. as the starter. According to Mark Kaboly of The Athletic, though, Fautanu has spent the first three days of organized team activities at right tackle behind Jones.

Kaboly doesn’t think Fautanu will stay as the backup at right tackle, though. More likely, with OTAs serving as the ideal time to mold and learn. This experience is the perfect opportunity for Fautanu to learn both positions in the event that he may have to move over to the right side and fill in for an injured Jones. It’s not uncommon for offensive lineman to need time to develop, but the Steelers likely didn’t use their first two draft picks on players they didn’t intend to start.

Things are still extremely early. The rookies are still finding their footing, and a number of camp battles are sure to ensue. The team even has plenty of time to sign a veteran free agent if they deem it necessary. Still, Pittsburgh has the potential to serve as a rare occasion in which we see three rookies starting across the offensive line.

We last saw that in 2020 when the Dolphins started Austin Jackson, Robert Hunt, and Solomon Kindley (their first-, second-, and fourth-round picks, respectively) as rookies. That Miami team improved their record from 5-11 the previous year to 10-6 despite the youth across the line. The Steelers may be hoping for a similar level of improvement.

View Comments (22)