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2024 NFL Draft

First-Round Steelers OT Option Has a Lot to Prove at NFL Combine



Pittsburgh Steelers 2024 NFL Draft Prospect Georgia OT Amarius Mims
Georgia offensive lineman Amarius Mims (65) is shown aginst SOuth Carolina during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023, Ga. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Of the potential Pittsburgh Steelers first-round draft pick options that will be attending the 2024 NFL Combine in Indianapolis next week, few will have more to prove than Georgia offensive tackle Amarius Mims.

Mims is a fascinating prospect, who combines an incredible athletic profile with size and strength in spades. He profiles as the kind of prospect that the Steelers could bookend with his former college teammate Broderick Jones, moving Jones back to the left size and locking down their tackle position for a decade or more.

The only problem with that idea, and the reason that Mims will likely be available when the Steelers pick at No. 20 overall in the first round, is that he only played in eight college games.

Mims is coming out after his true junior season, making him one of the youngest players in the 2024 NFL Draft class. He also played at Georgia while the Bulldogs were winning back-to-back College Football Playoff National Championships in 2021 and 2022.

In 2021, he was behind Jamaree Salyer, now with the Los Angeles Chargers, and Warren McClendon, now with the Los Angeles Rams. In 2022, it was McClendon and Jones that locked down the starting roles for the Bulldogs. It wasn’t until McClendon was injured in the 2022 SEC Championship Game that Mims got a chance to shine, and he did.

Playing right tackle against Ohio State and TCU, he helped shepherd Georgia to two straight wins and a national title.

In 2023, after patiently waiting his turn for two seasons, Mims was expected to get a full season of run as a starter, only to suffer a high ankle sprain in the first SEC game of the season against South Carolina. Mims returned for regular-season finale against Ole Miss, but did not participate in the Orange Bowl after Georgia was not selected to play in the CFP, leaving him with just eight collegiate starts under his belt.

Mims also didn’t go to Mobile to play in the Senior Bowl, leaving the NFL Combine as the first chance for a lot of teams to get to know him, hear his story, and understand why such a talented athletic package has such a short resume.

“For Mims, the most important thing is answering that question,” ESPN NFL Draft analyst Matt Miller said in a conference call with Steelers Now on Tuesday. “You only started eight games. Where are you at coming back from the injury? I thought he looked good coming back this year, I think it was an ankle injury he came back from. I thought he looked great just as soon as he got back on the field. 

“But you’re going to have to spend a lot of time with offensive line coaches if you’re Amarius Mims and let those guys see who you are. But I’m confident after we watch him work out, that it’s going to be one of the best workouts at the combine for offensive line if not the best workout for offensive linemen. Someone is going to talk themselves into, OK if we can get him consistently on the field. It’s a little bit misleading. It’s not that he only started eight games because he was always hurt or because he wasn’t good. Georgia had a great offensive line. He had to wait his turn. As soon as he got his turn, late in 2022, he was amazing, and then unfortunately got hurt this year. 

“That’s the story that he needs to tell. Great teammate, I waited my turn. When I got my opportunity, I played as well as anyone in the country, and then unfortunately suffered an injury that he came back from instead of just opting out and saying no I’ll sit it out and go to the NFL. That’s what I’d be telling him to say in those 15-min speed dating interviews they get next week.”

Miller believes that the Steelers would be getting a very good value if Mims falls to them at No. 20 and they snap up their second first-round Georgia tackle in as many years.

“He only had eight starts in college, but those eight starts are as good as any lineman in this class,” Mims said. “That’s the thing that makes you excited about him, and I why I think, at 20, he’s actually good value. A college right tackle, I thought last year that Broderick Jones would be an NFL left tackle, so now you have the ability to get these two back together.”