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2023 NFL Draft

How Soon Should Steelers Start Broderick Jones?



Steelers Tackle Broderick Jones

When should Broderick Jones first enter the starting lineup for the Pittsburgh Steelers?

That will be one of the key storylines of the team’s 2023 offseason — and perhaps, the early part of the regular season, if Jones is deemed not to be ready to go for Week 1.

It seems that the Steelers are already preparing for the inevitability of Jones taking over the starting job, with incumbent starter Dan Moore Jr. getting a few reps at right tackle in the second week of the team’s OTAs at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.

Those reps coincided with Jones’ first snaps with the first team at left tackle, and it seems clear that’s the spot he’s going to fill eventually.

But opinions remain divided on exactly when that will occur. Steelers guard Kevin Dotson said this week that Jones might not play this season

“I think this year, most likely, he won’t play,” Dotson said. “I’m thinking they’re just thinking about the future.”

NFL Films analyst Greg Cosell seems to agree with that assessment.

“Based on tape study, I did not think Broderick Jones would be ready to start year one but I guess we’ll find that one out,” Cosell said. “They certainly have him penciled in, but I didn’t think Dan Moore had played poorly at left tackle for them. But they felt they needed an upgrade or they would not have drafted Broderick Jones in the first round.”

On the other hand, fellow Steelers teammate Isaac Seumalo sees a player that he thinks will be ready to step in right away.

“Offensive line is one of those things that takes time and experience,” Seumalo said. “There are very rare guys that can come in and play right away. I think Broderick possesses those tools.”

How rare is it? Well, for players of Jones’ draft status, not that rare. There have been 22 tackles drafted in the first round over the last four draft classes, with the Steelers’ 14th pick used on Jones coming right about the midpoint of that sample.

Of those 22 players, 16 started their first game of their rookie season. Furthermore, every player drafted ahead of No. 20 overall started the first game of their rookie season.

Of players drafted between 20 and 32, two started their first game, two started at some point in the first half of the season, one the final game of his rookie season and two did not start at all in their first year.

In total, 72.7% of first-round tackles have started their first game, 13.6% have started at some point in the first half of their rookie season, with 13.6% taking longer than that.

Jones is younger than most NFL Draft picks, and also less experienced, but players of his draft status have usually been Day 1 starters.

Of course, the Steelers have something of a unique situation in their battle. Most teams don’t draft a left tackle with a two-year incumbent starter at the position. And the team’s difficult early-season schedule, with premier edge rushers Nick Bosa, Maxx Crosby and Myles Garrett on the docket, may make Mike Tomlin and company hesitate to push Jones forward faster than the may be ready.

After all, Moore was a day-one starter as a fourth-round draft pick in 2021, but gave up seven sacks that season and seven more in 2022, according to PFF, setting the table for the Steelers pick of Jones in the first place.

So while the Steelers clearly wanted to upgrade on Moore by drafting Jones, they’re also very familiar with the fact that younger isn’t always better on the offensive line.

The Steelers have the room to be more patient with Jones than most teams that have drafted first-round linemen, but his draft status says we should expect to see No. 77 in the starting lineup sooner rather than later.

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