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Chuks Okorafor is arguably the biggest question mark for the Steelers heading in the 2021 season. He wasn't impressive at right tackle last season and this year's he's projected to move to left tackle to protect Ben Roethlisberger's blindside. According to Pro Football Focus, of the 79 tackles that they graded last year, Okorafor ranked 70th. So, the concern is warranted.
Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report released an article today that touched on one player on every NFL Team who could disappoint in 2021, and it wasn't shocking to see that he had Okorafor listed for the Steelers.
"The loss of Villanueva leaves a hole at the most important position on the offensive line —one likely to be filled by 2018 third-round pick Chukwuma Okorafor," Knox wrote. "Okorafor saw his first season as a starter last year and performed admirably. He was responsible for five penalties and three sacks allowed while playing at right tackle, according to PFF. Playing on the left side will be a tougher challenge, though, particularly with a progressively less-mobile Roethlisberger under center.
"This isn't to say that Okorafor will be a disaster in his new role. However, Okorafor isn't likely to provide the same reliable presence that Villanueva did for the past six seasons. Any drop-off in line play will be disappointing because if Roethlisberger cannot stay protected, he's likely to struggle to bounce back from last year's disappointing finish."
Many see Okorafor moving to the left tackle position as a big transition, but he doesn't see it that way and is up for the challenge.
“I don’t think there is any more pressure playing left tackle, left guard or center,” Okorafor said at OTAs via Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “It’s still protecting Ben. And it’s blocking for Benny [Snell] or Najee [Harris] or whoever is running the ball. So whether it’s left side or right side, it’s just having to block well.”
Perhaps Okorafor's game will reach new heights under the tutelage of new offensive line coach Adrian Klemm, who wants to see Okorafor be more physical in 2021 compared to last year where he was often passive.
"I've always thought that Chuks was such a talented individual," Klemm told the media last week after the Steelers wrapped up their three-day mandatory minicamp. "He is so athletic. The one thing you want to see is for him to be a little more physical. He's a natural left tackle that had to adjust to playing on the right. The thing I've seen so far is that there are things he can improve on, but he's been up for the challenge."