The Pittsburgh Steelers started the 2023 NFL Draft by selecting Georgia tackle Broderick Jones, and today I wanted to continue my examinations series looking at and providing stat context for the position using Sports Info Solutions (SIS). After my 2022 article at the position, the data in this study looks at their 2021 college season, focusing on the players who heard their names called in the draft, and two players were excluded due to SIS not tracking smaller schools. The goal is to see how Jones stacked up amongst his peers.
First, let’s look at the tackles regular and postseason snap totals last season:
Through Steelers lenses, we see Broderick Jones lacked opportunity compared to his peers, with the second least total snaps (403), playing in ten games and starting in four of them behind Jamaree Salyer (sixth round pick in 2022). The majority of Jones’ snaps came at left tackle as they did in 2022, when he leaped to 891 snaps (second most) and 15 starts. This is important context as we dive deeper into his 2021 season, and consider how he progressed last year.
Next, let’s add quality context in run and pass blocking with SIS’s points above average metric (The total of a player’s EPA responsibility while blocking using the Total Points system that distributes credit among all players on the field for a given play. For blockers, this includes accounting for blown blocks, yards before contact on running plays, and performance given the defenders in the box.):
Here we see a stark difference to where he landed on the chart from the 2022 article, on the bottom left with the next to last rank as a run blocker, and 14th out of the 18 qualifiers in the pass game. Lack of opportunity is certainly a huge factor, and when comparing to his PFF grades in the span he fared better, particularly in run blocking (76.5) and a 71 pass block grade. A few huge takeaways when stacking this up to his 2022 season: first having over twice as many snaps, and showcasing a huge leap when he landed above the mean in both data points, along with an encouraging improvement as a pass blocker, highlighted by an 84.1 PFF grade. Yes, it would be more ideal if he had a larger sample size as someone like Darnell Wright for example, but coming from Georgia where the depth chart competition is fierce, and the improvements he made when given the opportunity are encouraging, along with his youth and upside have me excited for his future in the black and gold.
To wrap up, let’s look at a more total blocking view with SIS’s points earned metric (The total of a player’s EPA responsibility while blocking using the Total Points system that distributes credit among all players on the field for a given play. Totals are scaled up to map to the average points scored or allowed on a team level, with the player’s snap count determining how much to adjust. For blockers, this includes accounting for blown blocks, yards before contact on running plays, and performance given the defenders in the box.) and which NFL teams made their dreams a reality by selecting them:
As expected with the small number of opportunities, Broderick Jones had the second lowest result in 2021 (11.18), compared to ranking third last season (39.82). That was the biggest jump by far of all the drafted players of 28.64 points earned (second-best was 16.55), emphasizing the earlier point even further.
So, the outlook for Broderick Jones looks bright seeing his substantial improvements from 2021 to 2022 as Georgia’s starting left tackle. Here’s to hoping his progression continues with a strong offseason, and hope he hits the field sooner rather than later so we can see how his high potential and talent pan out for the black and gold right out of the gate.
Throughout the rest of the offseason, I will dive deeper into the data as we continue to learn about the newest Pittsburgh Steelers. How do you think Broderick Jones will fare his rookie year? What are some of your takeaways? Thanks for reading and let me know your thoughts in the comments.