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Jesse Davis is an interesting acquisition for the Steelers offensive line

While he’s unlikely to start, Davis has some traits the Steelers could use.

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers offensive line is going through a major transition. Two years ago It was largely still the same line Ben Roethlisberger had played behind for the previous six seasons. A group that had grown into one of the best pass blocking lines in the NFL. The line today only has one player that played for the Steelers in 2019. A lot of turnover after a long period of stability.

Not only is it an almost completely new group of players since 2019, there are plenty of new players and players new to the team. Add in a new offensive line coach and changes in offensive focus and you have a recipe for difficulty. The preseason games put the line’s lack of experience with the system and each other under a microscope, and the results weren’t good.

The Steelers didn’t make any major moves to shake up the starting linemen either, and it appears they believe that inexperience and unfamiliarity are much bigger problems than any deficiencies in personnel.

The one move the Steelers did make was to trade for Jesse Davis, a starting tackle who has played every position but center in the NFL. Davis may be a 5-year starter in the NFL, but he isn’t considered a quality starter by most, and is likely to be a backup in Pittsburgh.

The question is, what does he bring to the roster?

2019 Dolphins vs. Steelers, 2nd quarter, 11:30

Jesse Davis is the tackle to the top of the screen.

The 2019 matchup between the Steelers and Dolphins didn’t start well for the Steelers, but the Steelers defense took over and dominated the rest of the game, and a big part of that was how dominant T.J. Watt was while facing Davis. Here you can see how little time Ryan Fitzpatrick had in the pocket, as Watt was able to beat Davis almost instantly.

The Dolphins survived for a while with a steady diet of screen passes and quick throws. But those weren’t getting them points and when they fell behind and needed something more.

2019 Dolphins vs. Steelers, 4th quarter, 7:23

Jesse Davis is the tackle to the bottom of the screen.

Yeah. That’s a pretty good reminder of how good T.J. Watt was in 2019. He ended this play with possession of the football too. Jesse Davis had no answer for Watt, and the Steelers got a win.

PFF’s grades consider this game to be Jesse Davis’s worst by a large margin, and I agree. Davis shows struggles against twitchy athletes and against polished rushers that have a good arsenal of pass rush moves. Facing T.J. Watt, who excels at both, was the worst-case scenario.

I wanted to get that out of the way, because that is the bad. When Jesse Davis is going one on one with athletic and skilled edge rushers, he’s going to lose.

2020 Dolphins vs. Rams, 1st quarter, 9:42

Jesse Davis is the tackle to the bottom of the screen.

Here is where Jess Davis shows up better. The Rams run a stunt to get Aaron Donald outside. Davis handles the stunt well, driving the first rusher into the guard before coming off and getting enough of a push on Aaron Donald to drive his arc wide enough the quarterback was safe. He’s not athletic enough to get out and block Aaron Donald well here, but he gets enough to keep his quarterback clean.

2020 Dolphins vs. Rams, 3rd quarter, 9:51

Jesse Davis is the tackle to the bottom of the screen.

Davis isn’t a people mover either, but he consistently looks good on combo blocks. He does a very good job of making sure Aaron Donald is taken care of before moving off to get a linebacker, and does a good job of landing the second level block.

When Davis is working with his teammates, like blocking stunts and combo blocks are strengths of Jesse Davis.

2021 Dolphins vs. Ravens, 1st quarter, 9:48

Jesse Davis is the tackle to the top of the screen.

In 2021 he’s on the right side of the line and still showing good execution on combo blocks. He helps drive the tackle back and peels off at the right point to keep the linebacker out of the play.

2021 Dolphins vs. Ravens, 2nd quarter, 0:51

Jesse Davis is the tackle to the bottom of the screen.

You can see here Jesse Davis still struggling with talented athletic edge rushers, this time giving up a pressure and hit to Baltimore’s 2021 1st round pick, Odafe Owey. He wasn’t as bad as he was against T.J. Watt, but he isn’t going to lock down the edge against quality opponents.

2021 Dolphins vs. Ravens, 2nd quarter, 0:41

Jesse Davis is the tackle to the bottom of the screen.

But he still picks up stunts well, and against Calais Campbell, does much better.

2021 Dolphins vs. Ravens, 2nd quarter, 10:22

Jesse Davis is the tackle to the bottom of the screen.

This is a good sample of Jesse Davis, he opens this play well, he has no one rushing right off, and he gets a hand in to help his guard while keeping his eyes open for delayed rushers. When one comes, the quarterback is out of the pocket and Davis can’t get to the wider rush lane quick enough to help.

Davis is an interesting addition to me because the Steelers struggled with their communication a good bit in the preseason, and that is a strength of Jesse Davis’s game. It stands out that Davis played for Brian Flores for three seasons so the Steelers have good insight into his value to the team beyond his play on the field. We will see how the Steelers end up using him, and how the offensive line progresses over the course of the 2022 season, but for now, there are valid questions about what the Steelers think they are getting in Jesse Davis.