The Pittsburgh Steelers are heading into the 2023 offseason. With free agency as the next big event to shape next season’s roster, it will be followed by the NFL draft in April. The Steelers will have a number of decisions with players who were on the 2022 roster and will have the opportunity to add some free agent acquisitions before making their first draft selection. The NFL combine and player pro days will also shape the team’s big boards before the draft.
When talking about mock drafts or NFL free agency, you have to first identify the team’s main needs for the offseason. Before any gains or losses in free agency, there are some who would like to see the Steelers go with either offensive line or defensive line with their first-round pick. Others feel inside linebacker or cornerback could be on top of the list. With plenty of chances for the Steelers to shape their roster prior to April, their goal is usually to get into position to draft the best player available rather than target a specific position. When it comes to what position the team will select with their first pick, it is certainly up for debate.
In the latest one-round mock draft by Tankathon, they have the Steelers addressing the offensive tackle position before anything else. Although the Steelers got improved play from their offensive line as the season went on, it does not take it off the table to be a place to look for an upgrade. Since the Steelers could go in any number of directions with their first selection, it is important to look at all the possibilities presented by various mock draft outlets.
Check out the Steelers 17th pick:
17. Pittsburgh Steelers | Broderick Jones | OT | Georgia | SO |
Being early in the draft process, there may be some players most fans are not familiar with. If this is the case, here is a breakdown of Jones according to profootballnetwork.com:
Georgia OT Broderick Jones Current Draft Projection
Jones didn’t progress as much as he could have in 2022, but he still grades out as a potential Round 1 selection in the 2023 NFL Draft off his most recent tape. The physical tools are a heavy accelerant for Jones’ projection, but at his ceiling, he can truly be a dominant blindside blocker.
As a former five-star recruit, Jones has talent in spades, and then some. As an athlete, he’s explosive, amped-up, agile, flexible, and has plenty of range in space. He also has elite proportional length and overall power capacity, and can wrestle defenders into submission with his raw strength at the point of attack.
While the tools are a prime selling point for Jones, they can be a double-edged sword. Even through 2022, he’s been a bit too reliant on his tools. Jones’ physical skill set dictates that he can outmatch many college defenders with his athleticism and strength alone, but that won’t fly as often in the NFL.
It’s worth noting that Jones did display modest growth in 2022. His footwork is smoother and more balanced than it was in 2021, and he’s more controlled overall as a moving blocker. But Jones can still struggle to manage his pad level and balance through reps, and as a hand-fighter, he’s still largely dependent on two-hand extensions.
To be fair, Jones excels at timing his extensions and latching with force, but when he’s forced to be combative and adaptable in the NFL, the results may be up and down early on. Having said all this, Jones isn’t completely raw. He’s incredibly talented and has enough of a floor to take starting reps early.
Jones will undoubtedly take his lumps, particularly as a pass protector, but more experience is what he needs to further hone his skill set. Once he gets that experience and continues to build around his high-level physical profile, Jones can be an impact starter at either left or right tackle — a projection that’s well worth a Round 1 pick.
For all you who are preparing yourself for the draft, what do you think of the selection? Would you be on board with the Steelers taking Jones with their first pick? Or do you feel there is a better player at this position, a different one who may still be available, or that Jones will not make it to the 17th pick? Personally, I would be fine with the Steelers bolstering the offensive line with their first pick this year. When it comes specifically to Jones, it appears early in the process that he could be off the board by pick 17 based on his potential. But because it’s so early, it’s hard to say exactly what the interest will be in Jones by teams picking ahead of the Steelers.