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Who’s Steelers ‘X-Factor’ going into season?

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a lot of players who can help make or break their season, but which one is the team’s “X-Factor”?

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Pittsburgh Steelers v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers are heading into the season with a lot of question marks surrounding the team, especially at offensive tackle.

Tackle was one of the team’s biggest needs after last season, which propelled them to select Georgia offensive lineman Broderick Jones with the No. 14 pick.

When a team drafts an offensive tackle (or any player) in the first round, it’s expected that he could be someone the franchise builds around. Jones may be a critical piece for the Steelers soon, but not yet.

Per ESPN, Jones is listed as the second-string left tackle behind Dan Moore Jr., who Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox lists as the team’s X-Factor going into the season.

The Steelers used a first-round pick on Georgia’s Broderick Jones, and while the rookie has immense physical upside, he’s relatively unpolished and is open to learning behind Moore for the time being.

“I feel like it’s an asset for me just to sit back and watch somebody, you know, who’s older, who’s done it for years,” Jones said, per Will Graves of the Associated Press.

This makes Moore a massive X-factor along the Steelers offensive line. If the 24-year-old shows improvement over last year, great. If he doesn’t, Pittsburgh will either have a liability at the position or be forced to turn to an unproven rookie.

The left tackle may have the most important role on the offensive line, protecting the quarterback’s blind side. It’s a huge responsibility to place on a rookie, which is why Moore will likely begin the season as the starter. However, Moore must improve on a disappointing 2022 campaign.

Per Pro Football Focus, Moore was responsible for 10 penalties and seven sacks last season. Those numbers need to improve in 2023 in order for him to keep his job. If those numbers look better, there’s also a good chance it could be reflected in the offense’s performance as a whole.