Pittsburgh trading up for OT Broderick Jones was an exciting move. The first tackle taken in the first round in nearly 30 years, a potential cornerstone piece to protect Kenny Pickett’s blindside. Jones has all the potential in the world and fans should be excited.
Just don’t forget about current left tackle Dan Moore Jr. He doesn’t have the incredible upside Jones possesses. But he’s not going to lay down and give away his starting job.
Moore is far from a rookie. He’s a highly experienced third-year guy, taking virtually every single left tackle snap up for grabs since 2021. Aside from a brief camp battle his rookie year, when he dabbled a bit at right tackle, back when Zach Banner was theoretically in the mix, and missing the 2021 season finale against Baltimore due to an ankle injury, Moore has logged every snap on the left side. Last year, he played 100% of the offense’s snaps and his game naturally progressed.
Moore got comfortable in Pat Meyer’s system. The whole unit had growing pains — even free agent additions like James Daniels — learning how to pass set far more aggressively than they had before. Moore looked rough in the preseason but smoothed out with more reps and time. Jones is going to be in the boat the whole front five experienced last year. While he has the length Meyer covets, 34 3/4-inch arms, he’ll have to get used to the more forward and aggressive sets than he was taught at Georgia. The upside to those sets is the ability to win the snap early and shut down a rush before it gets going. The downside is that it’s really aggressive and if you miss your punch, there’s less margin of error to recover. Knowing Jones was a raw player no matter the system he was coming into, with just 19 career college starts, it’s reasonable to think he’ll have his own growing pains this summer.
Eventually, Jones will work through them. But until then, it’s possible the team decides to stick with Moore to begin the 2023 season. Starting a raw, young, left tackle like Jones if he isn’t ready runs counter to the team’s goal of protecting Kenny Pickett.
Give Moore credit, too. He’s consistently gotten better throughout the course of his career. He looked far more comfortable the back half of the season in pass protection and as a run blocker, the latter of which is an underrated part of the game and fits well with the offensive identity Pittsburgh’s trying to build. He’s also an extremely hard worker who is always taking extra reps to improve his game.
All of that is to say Moore vs. Jones is going to be a fun training camp battle. Of course, Jones may come out on top. The first-round pick is the favorite to win the job, and even if he doesn’t, he’ll probably see the field soon enough. Just don’t hand the job to him. Dan Moore certainly won’t.