Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert held their annual pre-draft press conference on Monday. Being the first time they have spoken since January, the biggest topics revolved around the upcoming 2021 NFL draft. But not everything had to do with draft questions.
One interesting question was asking Coach Tomlin specifically who his starters are at this time at both the left tackle position and the right cornerback position. Since many following the Steelers closely had a good indication that Cam Sutton was going to be the first person called upon when the Steelers get on the field together later this year, the question about left tackle was most intriguing.
There was some speculation about Zach Banner making the move to the left side based on some earlier comments by Coach Tomlin. On the other hand, some believe Chuks Okorafor, who started 15 games in the regular season plus one in the playoffs after the injury to Banner, is better suited for the left side and the Steelers should keep Banner at right tackle.
Getting an idea of what the Steelers are thinking during the offseason is an interesting step in figuring out how the Steelers changing offensive line is going to fit together. But before answering the question, Tomlin gave a big disclaimer about putting too much stock in depth charts in April.
“Depth charts this time of year are funny,” Tomlin stated after he chuckled at the question. “They don’t mean anything. They’re not worth the paper, they’re written on.”
After setting up the notion that people should not be reading too much into his answer, Tomlin did name names in order to answer the question of who would start off as the starting left tackle and right corner back.
“Chuks (Okorafor) will be the guy that’s probably penciled in in late April at left tackle and Cam Sutton will get first opportunity and right corner.”
Before diving into Tomlin’s answer, he did follow up his quote to complete the ‘name sandwich’ by adding his second slice of ‘disclaimer’ bread.
“But it means absolutely nothing. And quote me on that.”
Based on Tomlin’s answer, what this doesn’t tell us is who will be the starting left tackle for the Steelers this fall. It could be Okorafor. It could also be another lineman currently on the roster. Of course, it could also be a 2021 NFL draft pick.
What Tomlin’s answer does tell us is that, at this moment, the Steeler see Okorafor more at left tackle and Banner more at right tackle than the opposite scenario.
The reason we can draw this conclusion is because those are the two players that sit on the top of the tackle depth chart at this time. If one player is it one position, it’s natural to believe the other player would be penciled in at the other position.
The Steelers did also add free agent swing tackle Joe Haeg from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this offseason. Coming in from another organization, it is doubtful the Steelers would pencil Haeg in at a starting position before things get rolling when they actually have two other players they are familiar with to step into the huddle for the first time. But this obviously does not mean that Haeg will not get his chance to earn a spot in the Steelers starting lineup as well.
The last thing Steelers fan should do is read too much into Tonlin’s answer as he spent plenty of time telling us why we shouldn’t. But knowing the options right now were pretty much Zach Banner and Chuks Okorafor, Tomlin went with Chuks at left tackle which would allow all those keeping track to pencil in Banner on the right side to start for the offseason depth chart.
Stay tuned to Behind The Steel Curtain for breaking news, player updates, contract statuses, and all things Pittsburgh Steelers as they prepare for this week’s 2021 NFL draft.