PITTSBURGH — When Georgia offensive tackle Broderick Jones took his pre-draft visit to Pittsburgh and the Steelers’ UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the South Side earlier this month, he immediately felt a connection with the place.
Two weeks later, he’s on his way back. Jones will be welcome to Pittsburgh as the Steelers’ first-round draft pick on Friday, but he said on Thursday after his selection at pick No. 14 in the 2023 NFL Draft, that the city and the facility where he’ll be working already feels like home.
“I felt like I was at home,” Jones said on a conference call with Pittsburgh reporters. “I felt like I was at Georgia. I felt like the energy was there. I felt like everything that was talked about was needed with me, the coaches, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the whole organization. At the end of the day, I was in love with the Steelers when I left and I became one.”
Home for Jones is Lithonia, Georgia in suburban Atlanta, less than 20 miles east on Interstate 20 from where the Atlanta Falcons play and an hour from Athens, where Jones won two national championships with the Georgia Bulldogs.
Pittsburgh — especially Pittsburgh in April — isn’t much like Atlanta. But the Steelers and the Georgia Bulldogs? Well, you can see the similarities there. Two programs that are elite in their field, built on defense, running the ball and toughness, and with reputations as being stalwarts about things like tradition and fundamentals.
“I rock with Coach Mike Tomlin a whole bunch,” Jones said. “I feel like he understand me. I’m just ready to get to it.”
With Jones’ former Bulldogs teammate George Pickens already on the roster, and fellow Georgia natives Cam and Connor Heyward, Mark Robinson, Montravius Adams, he should fit right in to his new home away from home.
“Pittsburgh breeds dawgs,” Jones said. “That’s why Pittsburgh picked me.”