The day all of Steelers Nation has been waiting for has finally arrived. The first round of the 2023 NFL Draft kicked off on Thursday night, and all the mock drafts and speculation finally comes to a merciful end, at least for a little while. Time to start getting answers for all our unanswered questions.
One big question for the Steelers was answered fairly quickly on Thursday night. Would the Steelers continue their aggressive offseason approach, or let the draft board fall to them. Omar Khan and company are definitely keeping the pedal to the metal.
I have been given the distinguished task of trying to apply a letter grade to each Steelers selection.
There are specific criteria necessary when attempting to accurately and fairly grade any draft pick. Only time will reveal the validity of any grade given, but I will utilize certain parameters as I attempt to apply an initial grade for each Steelers draft pick. I base each grade on projected roster fit, potential immediate impact, and assumed draft value. Draft value is achieved by evaluating each players actual selection against their projected draft position, whether that be player rankings or projected round.
The Pittsburgh Steelers were rumored as possible trade candidates to move up in the first round. Those rumors proved to be prophetic when the Steelers packaged the 17th pick of the first round, along with the 120th pick (fourth round), to acquire the 14th overall selection from the New England Patriots. The Steelers knew exactly who they had in mind.
The Steelers selected Georgia Bulldogs OT Broderick Jones with the 14th selection of the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft.
Broderick Jones is an immensely athletic and talented young offensive lineman, with prototypical strength, length, and mobility. I have actually never been able to write that statement about a Steelers offensive tackle during my tenure at BTSC. Jones is instantly the most athletically gifted tackle in Steelers history. For what it's worth, Jones didn't give up a single QB sack in 2022, playing in the SEC, for the back to back National Champions. Kenny Pickett should rest easy tonight. Sweet dreams, young prince.
Jones stands 6'5" and weighs 311 lbs. of sculpted muscle. He is still only 21 years old, which makes him one of the younger prospects in this offensive line class. Blessed with an exceptional wingspan and huge hands, Jones utilizes both attributes to aggressively attack his run and pass blocking sets. He relies on his 4.97 forty; the best time in his position group, and natural agility to excel on the move, especially on outside zone responsibilities.
Jones is a young stud with a rather nasty demeanor on the field, to the point he actually plays the position like a grumpy old man. If he gains quick leverage and puts the helpless defender on skates, the poor victim is going for an uncomfortable ride, frequently ending with a soul crushing pancake block. The Georgia Bulldogs obviously encourage their offensive players to be enthusiastic blockers. See George Pickens for a recent example.
Jones and Paris Johnson Jr. were widely considered the best pure left tackle prospects in the 2023 Draft class. With Johnson already off the board, the Steelers quickly moved up for Jones. I feel Jones is capable of starting at left tackle for the Steelers to begin the season, but Mike Tomlin will definitively make him earn the job.
Jones has room for improvement before becoming a starter. He only has 19 collegiate starts under his belt, and that inexperience shows up occasionally with some sloppy technique. Jones has a tendency to be overly aggressive on occasion, which can cause balance issues, or get too upright too quickly. Those issues can be easily addressed with fundamentally focused training. OL Coach Pat Meyer has to be salivating at the possibilities.
Based on the criteria mentioned earlier in this article, I give the Steelers first round selection of Broderick Jones an initial draft grade of A.
This selection would have been an easy A+, something I have never given during my Grading the Pick articles, if the Steelers weren't forced to sacrifice their fourth round selection in order to move up and select their coveted target. The New York Jets reportedly wanted to select Jones, and that reality undoubtedly influenced the Patriots decision to trade their pick to the Steelers, allowing the Steelers to move in front of their AFC East rivals.
Now we want to hear from the BTSC community and from Steelers Nation. What do you think about the selection and what initial grade would you give it. Please place your vote in the attached poll and share your reasoning in the comment section below.
I am pleased to welcome Broderick Jones to the Steelers family on behalf of the BTSC staff and community. Go Steelers!
What initial draft grade would you give the Steelers first round selection of Broderick Jones?
This poll is closed
A = Excellent selection
B = Solid selection
C = Average selection
D = Below average selection
F = Terrible selection