Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin may not be interested in keeping up with the Joneses, but that doesn’t mean he’s not interested in drafting one to keep his quarterback upright.
The Steelers finally decided to address their offensive tackle position with a serious pick on Thursday night by selecting Broderick Jones, a left tackle from the two-time defending champion Georgia Bulldogs, in the first round (14th, overall) of the 2023 NFL Draft.
Pittsburgh originally had the 17th pick in the first round but moved up three spots to ensure that it would have a chance at Jones, rated as either the third or fourth-best tackle heading into the draft. The Steelers made a deal with New England to move into the 14th spot and had to part with their fourth-round pick (120th, overall).
You can understand the strategy, given the perceived depth at the Steelers’ two biggest positions of need heading into the draft–offensive tackle and cornerback–along with how the first round played out over the first 13 selections on Thursday. Paris Johnson Jr (Ohio State), Darnell Wright (Tennessee) and Pete Skoronski (Northwestern) were taken sixth, 10th and 11th, respectively, which meant three of the top four tackle prospects were gone before 14. Conversely, Devon Witherspoon (Illinois) was the only first-round caliber cornerback drafted through 13 picks.
With that in mind, the Steelers aggressively moved up to get the last tackle with a consensus first-round grade.
Jones, 21, was a red-shirt freshman in 2020. He started four games in 2021 and helped the Bulldogs win a national title. Jones became a full-time starter in 2022 and was named First-Team SEC as he helped Georgia win back-to-back national championships.
The book on Jones, whose NFL.com Draft Profile lists him as 6’5″ and 311 pounds, is that he’s extremely athletic and someone who may have just touched the surface in terms of potential.
Will he start right away? Perhaps. Perhaps not, but with Dan Moore Jr. as the incumbent starter at left tackle, 2023 could act as a bit of a redshirt year for Jones while he learns the ropes and hones his skills at the professional level.
In any event, the Steelers went into the 2023 NFL Draft needing to address the position of left tackle, and they appeared to find a darn fine prospect in Broderick Jones.
The Steelers head into Friday evening with three picks–two in the second (32nd and 49th, overall) and one in the third (80th, overall)–and have a chance to address their other glaring need with the likes of Joey Porter Jr. still sitting on the board.