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Broderick Jones could be the left tackle Steelers’ fans have been waiting for

Did the Steelers select their offensive tackle of the future when they traded up to get Broderick Jones in Round 1?

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Texas Christian at Georgia Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers selected offensive tackle Broderick Jones from the University of Georgia with their top pick in the 2023 NFL Draft on Thursday night.

Jones was a two-year starter for the back-to-back national champion Bulldogs. Considering Pittsburgh traded up three spots to acquire him, it seems likely he’ll be given the opportunity to immediately earn a starting job. Here’s a breakdown of what Jones brings to the table, and at why he’s likely to become the best starting tackle in Pittsburgh in quite some time.


Jones is big (6’5-311) and long (35-inch arms) and looks every bit the part of an NFL left tackle. Looks aside, there are a few things that make Jones special. First, he’s a super athlete. Jones was a high school basketball player who earned numerous Division I scholarship offers in that sport. He was the only tackle to run sub-5.0 in the 40 at the NFL Combine, and he registered the third-highest athleticism score of any of the tackles who tested.

That athleticism shows up on film. Jones can really get out and move in space, like we see on this perimeter screen:

On this one, look at how much ground he has to cover to get to the block, and at how he dips and gathers his feet before contact to ensure he’s in good blocking position. This is a mismatch between Jones and the corner, but once Jones locks on he continues to run his feet until the corner is on his back:

That “fit-to-finish” mentality — which is coach-speak for players who stay locked on their blocks to the whistle once they engage — is common in Jones’s play. He has some nasty about him and is comfortable with the physical nature of the game.

Jones displays excellent athleticism in the trenches as well. This is a great rep on a zone run where he starts outside to double LSU’s edge rusher (18) with the tight end, then quickly redirects to pick up a linebacker (30) trying to spike inside to the B-gap. Jones (59) stays square the entire way and never crosses his feet, allowing him to shuffle laterally to pick up the backer. This rep shows an excellent understanding of how to execute the scheme, too, which bodes well in Matt Canada’s zone-heavy run game:

The Steelers didn’t run much pin-and-pull sweep last season, and they never pulled their tackles on GT counter, like we see below. But if they want to, they now have a player whose movement is ideal for those schemes. Watch how fluid Jones is opening up, pulling and climbing all the way to the opposite corner on this run. There aren’t many people on the planet with Jones’s size who move this easily:

This would be a great play for the Steelers to pair with jet sweep, by the way, with the jet moving away from the pull to hold the backside end. It’s a natural constraint, given all the jet Canada runs.

In pass protection, Jones’s feet are an asset as well. He can mirror pass rushers while staying on balance, and his long arms allow him to keep defenders at a distance:

Here he is matched against LSU’s highly-rated edge rusher, B.J. Ojulari. Watch as Jones quickly covers Ojulari’s feet with his own, then stays square so he can redirect to thwart the spin move. Jones does a good job of staying on-balance in pass protection and rarely loses blocks because of poor footwork:

Here’s a rep from which you could make a clinic tape. At the snap, Jones kicks wide to match the width of the edge rusher’s alignment. He is patient with his hands, then strikes violently and wins inside when he shoots them. The thing I like best is how he drops his hips and anchors his base once he recognizes the bull rush from the defender. This stops the rush dead in its tracks, and seals the edge of the pocket:

At Georgia, Jones allowed just two sacks on more than 1,200 total snaps, including none in 2022. By contrast, Dan Moore Jr. allowed seven sacks last season for the Steelers. Granted, the NFL is a lot different than college, but Moore’s poor feet in pass protection and his tendency to lunge and play off-balance were cause for concern as the Steelers considered how best to protect their most valuable asset on offense — quarterback Kenny Pickett. There seems little question that Jones’s aptitude as a pass blocker made him attractive.


Jones’s biggest weaknesses involve his technique. He can be overaggressive at times, leading to misses with hand placement and too much forward lean on run blocks. He’s also susceptible to giving up his chest by playing with his hands too wide. This can be fatal against strong NFL defenders who can control blocks by winning inside.

Take this rep. The result of the play is good, but Jones strikes his defender far too low and exposes his chest as a result. He gets away with it, as the defender fails to capitalize by punching wide as well. But against NFL players, this will result in a two-hand shiver to the chest that will neutralize Jones’s power:

Here’s another that looks fine but reveals poor technique. Watch Jones, at left tackle, against Ojulari in real time before we break it down:

Seems like a solid enough block. Jones doesn’t move Ojulari much, but he doesn’t give up penetration or lose control of the block either. All things considered, it feels like a wash.

When we zoom in, though, we see this:

By dropping his head, Jones exposes himself to any number of counter moves. He happens to do it at a moment where Ojulari is not in position to react well. But, in a different situation, against an opponent who is better positioned, this becomes a problem.

Fortunately for Jones, Pittsburgh has an offensive line coach in Pat Meyer who specializes in fixing the flaws in a player’s technique. As evidence, look at how the Steelers progressed as a unit last season, evolving from one of the league’s worst rushing teams early in the season to one of its best by year’s end. Meyer’s emphasis on fundamentals makes him a great candidate to help Jones, who is just 21 years old, Jones has been described as a lump of clay by some analysts. Meyer is the right coach to mold him.

Scheme Fit

This is the area where Jones is really attractive, and probably the reason the Steelers were willing to surrender some draft capital to acquire him.

In the run game, Jones’s athleticism is ideal for the outside zone scheme, which the Steelers integrated more into their game-plan late last season. Pittsburgh runs so much inside zone that, with defenses ganging up between the tackles to stop it, it feels imperative that they develop its wider compliment. Jones will help them do that, as well as get out on the perimeter to block sweeps and receiver screens.

His flaws as an interior run blocker aren’t likely to hurt the Steelers much, as their reliance on a zone-based run game lessens the need for Jones to move defenders on his own. His biggest weakness, then, is mitigated by Pittsburgh’s reluctance to run the schemes that expose it.

In pass protection, Meyer likes his center and guards to set the depth of the pocket — meaning he wants them to not give ground or allow the pocket to collapse at the feet of the quarterback — while he relies on the tackles to set its width. This means they must not get beaten across their face and must use their length and agility to push edge rushers wide. Jones is already well-developed in this area and seems equipped to translate those skills to the pro game.

Finally, the Steelers have spent a lot of time and money this off-season investing in linemen with an aggressive mindset and disposition. Isaac Seumalo and Nate Herbig are both tough, and in Herbig’s case, nasty. Clearly, the Steelers want to get more physical up front and be able to pound the football when they need to. Jones possesses the right demeanor for that. Once his technique catches up with his attitude and athleticism, he’s going to be special.


I don’t know if Jones will win the starting left tackle job outright. Again, he is young, and though he played against the best competition college football has to offer, he is not fully formed. But he’s not far away, either, and with Meyer’s tutelage I expect him to assume a starting role sooner than later.

This means incumbent starters Moore and Chuks Okorafor will be left to compete for the remaining tackle job. This seems about right, given how determined the Steelers were to upgrade the tackle spot in some fashion this off-season. A tackle group of Jones, Okorafor and Moore with Le’Raven Clark providing depth is solid if not spectacular, especially with Moore and Jones both young and still developing. The potential for growth over last season’s performance at the tackle position is significant.

The Steelers haven’t drafted an offensive lineman in the 1st Round since 2012 when they took David DeCastro. That pick worked out fabulously. I don’t know if Jones will become the player DeCastro was, but it’s been a long time since they selected a lineman with his potential. He certainly seems like the left tackle this fan base has been waiting for.