Building Block In Trenches Highlighted As Steelers’ ‘Most Ideal’ Draft Pick In First Round

Sitting at No. 17 overall in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft, a lot will have to go right for the Pittsburgh Steelers to land their man on the board, whomever that is.

Of course, the Steelers and GM Omar Khan could continue a rather busy, aggressive offseason and make a move up in the first round to land the guy they covet most, but chances are they will sit tight and let the board fall to them.

Should the board fall the correct way for the Steelers, at least according to CBS Sports’ Garrett Podell, Pittsburgh will land a massive building block along the offensive line at No. 17 overall.

That player? Georgia offensive tackle Broderick Jones.

Jones was highlighted as the Steelers’ “most ideal” draft pick in the first round by Podell Monday over players like Ohio State left tackle Paris Johnson Jr., Penn State cornerback Joey Porter Jr., and Oregon cornerback Christian Gonzalez.

“Former first-round pick Najee Harris averaged a lowly 3.8 yards per carry in 2022, the sixth-lowest in the NFL. He was barely better as a rookie with a 3.9-yards-per-carry average. Is that his fault or his offensive line’s? This pick of the former Georgia Bulldog will give the Steelers more clarity into that answer as well as aide Kenny Pickett’s growth with better pass protection,” Podell writes regarding the Steelers’ most ideal pick in the first round.

Jones is an intriguing left tackle prospect. He certainly looks the part of a potential franchise left tackle, standing 6’5 and weighing 311 pounds with 34 3/4” arms and 10 5/8” hands. Jones tested well at the NFL Combine, running a 4.97 40 while jumping 30” in the vert and 9’0” in the broad. You see that athleticism pop on the tape as he does a great job getting out in space as a run blocker, showing off his movement skills as well as his strength to overwhelm smaller defenders in the ground game.

While Jones didn’t allow a sack last season, the redshirt sophomore is still pretty raw in pass protection. He carries his hands low prior to his punch and can be inconsistent in terms of syncing his hands and feet in pass sets. He is also fairly lean as an OT and will face tougher competition on the edge at the next level. That will challenge his technique as well as his size and frame with power.

Jones is a younger prospect (he turns 22 in May) who only started 19 games in three seasons at Georgia. While he has some impressive physical traits, you often prefer tackles to have more experience and to be further along in their development before thrusting them into the starting job on the blindside. While Jones has more upside than Steelers incumbent left tackle Dan Moore Jr., the latter would likely continue to start for the majority, if not the entire 2023 season, until Jones is ready to take the starting job.

Therefore, the “most ideal” selection for the Steelers at No. 17 overall, should they go offensive tackle, should be Johnson Jr. or Tennessee’s Darnell Wright, as they are much more advanced and are plug-and-play guys, instead of the project that is Jones at this time.

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