The Pittsburgh Steelers have a few clear needs to address this offseason, and with three picks within the top 50 selections of the 2023 NFL Draft, the Steelers will have ample opportunity to do so. In her first mock draft, NFL.com analytics expert Cynthia Frelund has the Steelers addressing the offensive line in the first round, as she has Pittsburgh taking two-time national champion Broderick Jones out of the University of Georgia.
It’s important to note that Frelund does her mocks a little bit differently, as she bases it off getting a team the most possible wins for the next season. She plugs in potential free agents to different teams, and from there comes up with possible draft picks to make teams as strong as they can be for the 2023 season. She believes Jones is the best fit to improve the Steelers’ pass-blocking.
“My models ranked the Steelers’ O-line 26th overall last season. Jones forecasts as an impact left tackle from Day 1, especially in the pass game, where the Steelers also ranked 26th in passing yards per play (5.97).”
Jones, a redshirt sophomore, played in every game for Georgia over the last two seasons. He started every game this past season, where he was an AP All-SEC First Team selection. He played 434 snaps in 2021 before almost doubling that with 805 snaps this past season. He’s only allowed two sacks in his career, an impressive feat given the level of talent he went up against each week at the SEC level. He’s also only allowed 13 QB hurries and three QB hits in his collegiate career.
At 6’4, 311 pounds Jones has solid size for the position, but he’s also extremely athletic and quick. He was a former five-star recruit, ranked as the 11th-best player in the class of 2020. His strength and athleticism make him a plug-and-play offensive tackle and his pass-blocking is the best in the class. However, he still has work to do to become better in the run game, and that’s something that should come with more experience. If the Steelers decide to address offensive tackle early, Jones is someone who likely will be at the top of their draft board.
While Jones has plug-and-play ability, the Steelers could also choose to let him develop for a year and see if Dan Moore Jr. can continue to progress. They don’t have to start an offensive tackle immediately, so they could have Moore and Jones compete and have Jones supplant Moore midseason if he struggles, similar to what they did with Kenny Pickett and Mitch Trubisky at quarterback.
There are a lot of options on the table for the Steelers in the early rounds, and I think drafting an offensive tackle could be interesting. I think an interior offensive lineman is a bigger need right now, but if Moore Jr. doesn’t look the part of a starting tackle in 2023, then offensive tackle suddenly becomes a much bigger need. If they draft a guy early this year, they’ll have a ready-made replacement available. It’s definitely something I think the Steelers will consider.