Entering the 2023 NFL Draft, there’s really a big three when it comes to offensive tackle prospects and the Pittsburgh Steelers, that being Georgia’s Broderick Jones, Ohio State’s Paris Johnson Jr. and Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski.
If the Steelers want a shot at one of those three, chances are high they’ll have to move up in the draft to get their hands on one of them.
That’s exactly what Pittsburgh does in the latest mock draft from Pro Football Focus’ Michael Renner Wednesday, moving up to No. 14 in a trade with the New England Patriots to land Jones.
“The Steelers see the run on offensive tackles materializing and make a slight move to get their guy,” Renner writes regarding the move up to and select the Georgia product. “Jones is as physically gifted a tackle as exists in this class, but he’s also likely the most underdeveloped in the top group as well.”
After Johnson Jr. comes off the board at No. 13 to the New York Jets, Renner has the Steelers making the aggressive move up, landing Jones ahead of a potential run on tackles. At No. 16, Washington drafted Tennessee’s Darnell Wright, while New England landed Illinois cornerback Devon Witherspoon at No. 17 following the trade in Renner’s mock. Skoronski went No. 9 overall to Chicago.
The selection of Jones is a sound one for the Steelers. 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.