PITTSBURGH — Welcome to the starting lineup, Broderick Jones. The Steelers’ surprise right tackle against the Titans played so well that the Steelers have him listed as an ‘or’ alongside Chuks Okorafor on the depth chart. Mike Tomlin revealed on Tuesday that it does mean that Jones will suddenly start for the rest but that he is worthy of an extended look. He will start against the Packers.
“He did some really good things and I thought we did some really good things, so it’s probably worthy of an extended look,” Tomlin said.” It is, considering he did those things and we did those things on a short week. So, I’m not going all the way in but we’ll probably take another look at him and see what he looks like this week.”
Broderick Jones is tied for Pro Football Focus’ highest-graded rookie tackle. Certainly, the team is starting to see his maturation process come through after an impressive first two starts, one at each tackle spot. The decision to play him at right tackle factors in Dan Moore Jr., who Tomlin believes is far better at left tackle than right tackle. In addition, starter Chuks Okorafor was benched for on-field actions against the Jaguars.
Jones allowed just one pressure all night while sparking the run game to its best season performance. The team’s first-round pick is playing at a high level, with obvious technical deficiencies still in his game. It’s not everything, and a larger sample size is needed, but it appears the Steelers have what they bargained for when they traded up to draft Jones at 14th overall.
“I just like to play football, man,” Jones said. “They can put at quarterback if they want…either side, it’s not that much different for me. I feel like I can play on either side.
With that in mind, expect Jones to get a significant run this weekend, and after that, everything will be evaluated. Jones had a rough patch against the Houston Texans but has significantly improved since then in his limited action. Is it real, or are there still hurdles to clear? Tomlin and the team will find that out, as they seemingly plan to play their rookie tackle even more.