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2024 NFL Draft

Daniel Jeremiah Mocks Unexpected Guard to Steelers in First Round

NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah made a surprising pick of Washington guard Troy Fautanu to the Steelers in the first round of his latest mock 2024 NFL Draft.



Pittsburgh Steelers 2024 NFL Draft Prospect Troy Fautanu
Washington offensive lineman Troy Fautanu reacts after a touchdown by running back Dillon Johnson against Utah during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)

In his new mock draft for NFL Network, analyst Daniel Jeremiah has the Pittsburgh Steelers going in a surprising direction with their first-round pick, selecting offensive lineman Troy Fautanu out of Washington.

Such a move would be surprising for several reasons, first and foremost among them is that Fautanu has been projected by most scouts to have his best fit a guard, a position where the Steelers don’t have an obvious need. 

While Fautanu did play mostly left tackle with the Huskies, Jeremiah seems to think that his best NFL fit is at guard as well, suggesting that he could play next to Steelers 2023 first-round pick Broderick Jones on the offensive line.

“Fautanu fits the physical identity the Steelers are looking to create,” Jeremiah wrote. “He can play anywhere on the line, but it would be fun to watch him line up next to 2023 first-round pick Broderick Jones.”

The un-addressed problem with that scenario is that the Steelers have all three of their top guards from 2023 under contract for the 2024 season. So how would Fautanu slot into a starting lineup beside Jones?

One way would be for starting right tackle James Daniels to move to center to replace Mason Cole. Though Daniels has not played a single snap of center in his two seasons with the Steelers, he did take about 500 snaps there with the Chicago Bears back in 2019. It’s unclear if Daniels would even be interested in such a move.

The other would be that Fautanu would simply wait in the wings, with Daniels’ contract expiring at the end of the 2024 season. It’s not unheard of for the Steelers to draft a player with the intention on them sitting their entire rookie year — they did it with Cam Heyward and Troy Polamalu — but it hasn’t happened in a number of years. The last Steelers first-round pick that didn’t start at least half the team’s games as a rookie was Bud Dupree back in 2015.

The choice of Fautanu is more curious because of the players left on the board for the Steelers in Jeremiah’s scenario. Though Oregon center Jackson Powers-Johnson went off the board one pick ahead of Pittsburgh at No. 19 to the Los Angeles Rams, first-round tackles Tyler Guyton of Oklahoma and Amarius Mims of Georgia remained on the board, as did cornerbacks Ennis Rakestraw Jr. of Missouri and Cooper DeJean of Iowa. 

Tackle, cornerback and center are largely considered to be the team’s top three needs entering this offseason.