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2024 NFL Draft

Bucky Brooks Thinks Troy Fautanu Will Pave the Way for Najee Harris

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Pittsburgh Steelers Troy Fautanu

The Omar Khan and Andy Weidl regime have made one thing clear in Pittsburgh; they want to build up the trenches and dominate up front. Weidl brought this philosophy over from Philadelphia, as the Eagles always put an emphasis on the O-line and D-line, dating back to Andy Reid.

Washington offensive tackle Troy Fautanu, the 20th overall selection by the Steelers in the 2024 NFL Draft, is the latest addition that should make an immediate impact. Center is the only missing piece on the Steelers’ offensive line, and that could be addressed in the second round or in the third.

NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks thinks Fautanu will be a Day 1 plug-and-play starter with Pittsburgh.

“Fautanu is an ultra-versatile, plug-and-play option at multiple spots along the Steelers front. With new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith committed to running the ball, Fautanu fits right in as an imposing blocker who can help pave the way for Najee Harris,” Brooks wrote.

Harris became the first player in Steelers history to run for 1,000 or more yards in each of the first three seasons of his career. In 2023, Harris had the best season of his career in terms of yards per carry as he rushed 255 times for 1,035 yards — a 4.1 yards per carry average — and he scored eight touchdowns. Harris had rushed for 3.9 and 3.8 yards per carry in each of his first two seasons.

Harris rushed for 122 yards on 27 carries (4.5 average) and two touchdowns in the Steelers’ Week 17 win over Seattle last season. A good amount of those yards came behind right tackle Broderick Jones, who had a banner day. I’m sure Harris is happy to have another blue chip offensive tackle who plays with a mean streak.

“There’s only one way you’ve got to play o-line, man,” Fautanu said. “And that’s just nasty. I feel like every Saturday or just every day you practice being violent with your hands and just trying to be explosive off the ball and just trying to, you know, put your will and the other guy. You’ve got to dominate. You’ve got to finish guys.”

Troy Fautanu is a 23-year-old prospect who was one of the least talked about tackles among the top group until the NFL Combine when he shattered notions from those who thought he had to move inside with a 34.5-inch arm measurement.

An athletic freak, Fautanu played most of his career at Washington at left tackle, except for a few games when he kicked inside to left guard due to injuries. For the Steelers, their mentality up front is creating a dominant run game that will allow them to buoy a limited passing attack. But in order to do that in Arthur Smith’s wide zone scheme, they need athletic players who can move in space, and nastiness from those up front.