Are you ready for more 2023 NFL Draft discussion? Well, like it or not, there’s going to be a little of that during the slower time prior to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2022 training camp getting underway in the latter part of July.
On Thursday, Michael Renner of Pro Football Focus published a post that included one 2023 draft prospect that each NFL team should be watching this upcoming season. For the Steelers, Renner identified Georgia tackle Broderick Jones as that one player they should be paying close attention to throughout the 2022 college football season. He included a note on Jones as part of his suggestion.
“The former five-star tackle recruit has only seen 463 snaps as a spot backup to date for his career,” Renner noted in his post. “Still, he’s already done some jaw-dropping things that other 315-pound men can only dream of. He earned a 78.8 overall grade last season and will be the Bulldogs’ starting left tackle this fall.”
I wonder if Renner reads this site quite frequently. Why? Well, our own Jonathan Heitritter highlighted Jones in his first 2022 Summer Scouting Series post. Kudos to Jonathan for being ahead of the curve. Below is part of the summary that Heitritter posted on Jones after watching his tape.
“Overall, Broderick Jones is a raw, yet talented offensive tackle prospect that came on strong last season for the Bulldogs, helping them dominate on the ground en-route to a National Championship,” Heitritter wrote a few weeks ago. “He is a well-accomplished run blocker that looks to enforce his will on his opponent with physicality and an aggressive style of play. His athleticism and movement skills remind me personally of another redshirt sophomore who just got drafted in Charles Cross. However, a better comparison for Jones at this juncture would be Vikings OT Christian Darrisaw who too possessed impressive mobility and a fluid lower half for his size while playing with a similar frame and excelled as a run blocker for the Hokies when coming out of Virginia Tech.”
As Heitritter also noted in his post on Jones, the Steelers chose not to select a tackle, or any offensive lineman, during the 2022 NFL Draft. Instead, the team chose to sign two free agent interior offensive linemen in the form of guard James Daniels and center Mason Cole, in addition to re-signing right tackle Chukwuma Okorafor to a three-year contract. Additionally, the team is moving forward with Dan Moore Jr. as their starting left tackle after selecting him in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft out of Texas A&M. How Okorafor and Moore both play in 2022 will go a long way in helping us all determine if the Steelers might really consider selecting another tackle in the first few rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft.
Not once during the long tenure of former Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert did the organization select a tackle in the first round of any NFL Draft. In fact, the last time that the Steelers did select a tackle in the first round of a draft was way back in 1996 when Jamain Stephens, a North Carolina A&T product, was picked 29th overall. Stephens wound up being a bust on top of it all as he only lasted two seasons in Pittsburgh as part of him starting just 11 games in total.
Even if the Steelers don’t wind up selecting a tackle in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft, it’s a good bet that they will pick one at some point. As we sit here in late June of 2022, the Steelers aren’t likely to have much in the way of tackle depth behind Okorafor and Moore in 2023 as backup veteran Joe Haeg is currently in the final year of his contract. While the Steelers do have a few experienced tackles all vying for roster spots this summer in the form of Trent Jones and Chaz Green, it’s hard to envision one or both sticking past the 2022 season.
Jones won’t be the only 2023 tackle prospect that Heitritter will be scouting this summer and fall, so look for more profiles on players to watch during the 2022 season to surface.