Steelers News

‘Keep Building That Pickett Fence Up’: Pat Freiermuth Loves Broderick Jones Selection

The Pittsburgh Steelers used two of their top four picks in the 2023 NFL Draft to address their offense, and that started at the top with offensive tackle Broderick Jones. They moved up three spots to draft him at 14, and he shouldn’t take too long to crack the starting lineup.

Pittsburgh has turned over the majority of its offensive line over the past two years, which includes some significant additions via unrestricted free agency. James Daniels and Mason Cole stepped into starting roles in 2022, and Isaac Seumalo should do so for 2023. Jones should challenge Dan Moore Jr. for the left tackle job.

Either way, tight end Pat Freiermuth said it’s for the offense and for the Steelers’ young quarterback, Kenny Pickett. Asked about the Jones selection by his teammate Cameron Heyward on the latter’s Not Just Football podcast, Freiermuth said, “I love it, man. Keep building that Pickett Fence up”.

Jones is the first offensive lineman the Steelers have drafted in the first two rounds since 2012, when they used their first-round selection on guard David DeCastro and tackle Mike Adams in the second. One worked out better than the other.

A Georgia native, Jones is still just 21 years old, at least for a couple more weeks. He had to wait his turn to crack the Bulldogs’ starting lineup, however, sitting behind Jamaree Sayler. He got to make some starts in 2021 due to injury but was not a full-time starter until this past season, when his stock rose enormously.

He ended up being the fourth offensive lineman taken in the draft, with Paris Johnson Jr. going sixth overall to the Arizona Cardinals and Darnell Wright and Peter Skoronski coming off the board with back-to-back picks at 10 and 11. Many believe the New York Jets wanted to draft Jones at 15, necessitating Pittsburgh’s trade up from 17 to get him.

Although he did not allow a sack for the Bulldogs last season, his work in pass protection is regarded as being behind his run blocking. The rate at which he matures as a pass protector will determine how quickly he can enter the starting lineup.

Because priority number one is building that Pickett Fence and protecting the Steelers’ franchise quarterback. If he can do enough to help Pickett stay on his feet—and in the pocket—then they have no reason to rush him onto the field.

According to Pro Football Focus, Moore at left tackle was responsible for allowing seven sacks last season, by far the highest on the team, with right tackle Chukwuma Okorafor charged with three. Left guard Kevin Dotson allowed four. The two tackles combined to allow 80 pressures in total, with the slight quantitative edge to Okorafor, 41 to 39.

Of course Jones can’t start on both sides, but if the Steelers are able to upgrade at least one of the two tackle positions—which Jones should be in time, if not immediately—then they will have taken one big step in assembling the offensive line of the future.

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