‘Can Open Up Your Offense:’ Andy Weidl On What He Likes About Broderick Jones

You don’t need to twist Andy Weidl’s arm to like the Broderick Jones pick. At Villanova, Weidl was an offensive guard and in Philadelphia, his first NFL draft class led off with Alana Faneca, and Weidl helped build the Eagles’ trenches into the best in football. That philosophy clearly carried over in his return to Pittsburgh, trading up to select Georgia OT Broderick Jones 14th overall.

Speaking to reporters Friday for the first time since the draft, Weidl broke down his evaluation of Jones’ game and how he can impact Pittsburgh’s offense.

“Broderick is an interesting guy,” he said via a team-provided transcript. “He’s a big, explosive athlete. I had a chance to see him play twice this year. Went to the South Carolina game, and then I saw him later in the season at the SEC Championship, him and Darnell [Washington]. To watch him grow — he is a one-year starter, but to watch his arc of performance and his trajectory and how he kept getting better as the year went on.”

It’s good to confirm Weidl was on the scouting trail during the fall, though it was something we could safely assume based on the title’s traditional role. While the coaching staff is focused on the regular season, general managers and assistant usually spend their Saturdays in college football stadiums to get eyes on the 2023 class. There’s value that even the All-22 can’t provide. A better view of body language, sideline demeanor, the full intensity and urgency of moments that cut-up tape doesn’t offer nearly as well.

Jones was on his radar and important to watch this year. He was effectively a one-year starter, filling in for four games in 2021 but not becoming the Week One starter until 2022 and even then, he was occasionally used as part of a rotation. Like the rest of the organization, Khan talked about Jones’ athleticism and potential.

“He is a guy with tremendous feet, balance, ability to pass protect in space, and he also has the explosive power to displace people off the line of scrimmage. He can get up on the second level. He can execute blocks in space. I think you’ve seen the highlights of it, but he is a guy who can get out there. With his range you can do different things in your offense. He can open up your offense more.”

Jones is arguably the most athletic left tackle Pittsburgh has had since Marvel Smith and is probably a better athlete than Smith was. Weidl’s comment about opening up the Steelers’ offense is interesting and I wish he would’ve been pressed on what he meant. Jones has the ability to pull (though Georgia implemented a “skip pull” more often than a square pull) which could be an asset in the run game. Last year, the Steelers didn’t pull often. It’s unclear if that’s a Pat Meyer-based decision or if that was related to not having the right personnel.

Jones can also get out in space in the screen game too, something that’s been lackluster in Pittsburgh since the Nixon Administration. With the addition of TE Darnell Washington and competent receiving backs in Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren, the Steelers can bring life to their screen game in 2023.

Though they benefitted from having three picks in the top two rounds, Pittsburgh drafted a lineman on both sides of the ball in the first and second round for the first time since 2011 when they grabbed DE Cam Heyward and OT Marcus Gilbert in back-to-back picks. Those sure worked out well. Jones and DL Keeanu Benton aren’t guaranteed to achieve the same but it’s certainly an approach that fits with who Weidl and the Steelers want to be.

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