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2024 NFL Draft

Steelers Draft Profile: Washington OT Troy Fautanu Plays with ‘Nasty’ Mentality

Washington offensive tackle Troy Fautanu hopes he can be an elite tackle in the 2024 class, rising above the rest of the class as it stands.

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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)

Ask Washington offensive tackle Troy Fautanu about what he wants to prove in the NFL and it’s that he is the best. The 23-year-old prospect was one of the least talked about tackles among the top group up until the NFL Combine when he shattered notions from those who thought he had to move inside with a 34.5-inch arm measurement.

In fact, if you tell him he should move to guard or even center, he would call that analysis lazy.

“I think I’m a tackle. Grouping me in a category with the guards because of how tall I am, I honestly feel like it was a lazy narrative that grew legs for some reason. That’s lazy analysis,” Fautanu said.  Just watch the tape. I played tackle at a high level. Props to my coaches and my teammates that helped get me to that level. I truly feel like I played the tackle position at a legitimately high level. We made it to the biggest game in college football. I feel like I put my best foot forward against the best opponents throughout the entire season. At the end of the day, my mindset has always been to do whatever’s necessary to get on the field though. I want to play. I can’t make my biggest impact if I’m not on the field. For me, I’ll play wherever at this level. I’m willing to play guard or center if that’s what it takes. I took snaps as a center at pro day. I had never done it before. I  picked it up pretty quickly. I’m comfortable playing anywhere. My easy answer would be to continue playing tackle. That’s where I’ve played the last three or four years.”

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 run game that will be dominant and 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. And Fautanu sees only one way that a player can work on the offensive line — nastiness.

“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.”

It’s not just him taking to the media and trying to hype himself up, either. Fautanu backs up that on tape. All of the anger and frustration that he has pent up gets buried into the chest of the edge rusher facing him. In case you were wondering if he was built for the AFC North, Fautanu’s mentality is perfect for it. But medical questions are there, as Fautanu was flagged for a knee injury and could experience a fall. Regardless, Fautanu wants to set the tone, a perfect match for the Steelers.

“I have a love for the trenches,” Fautanu said. “You have the ability to kind of take your anger out, your frustration. So you have a bad play, you can go out there and kind of reset because every down is different. And I that’s how I approach life. That’s the approach to everything. I just try to seize every opportunity that I have. Because you don’t get to go out in public. I can’t go run somebody over in public without getting arrested.”

Take him at his word. While he called moving him off tackle to guard or center lazy analysis, he would be willing to do it if a team asked him to. Versatile, athletic, and nasty would be the way to describe Fautanu.

TALE OF THE TAPE

Measured at the 2024 NFL Combine: 6-foot-3 3/4, 317 pounds, 34 1/2-inch arms, 81 1/2-inch wingspan, 9 1/2-inch hands

Tested at the 2024 NFL Combine and Washington Pro Day: 32.5-inch vertical jump, 9-foot-5-inch Broad Jump, 29 Bench Reps, 5.01 40-yard dash

Fautanu posted a 9.62 RAS.

WHERE WILL TROY FAUTANU BE DRAFTED?

Fautanu’s stock has always been that was going to be gone by the middle of Day 2, but since the NFL Combine, he has shot up boards into the first round. The athletic Washington tackle now stands as the 18th ranked player and fifth tackle that is likely to go off the board in the Grinding the Mocks database.

Fautanu is right on the edge of falling to the Steelers at 20th overall, but that might be tougher to imagine with a run of tackle-needy teams in front of them. Still, he was flagged for a knee injury, which can certainly throw a wrench into his stock.

SCOUTING REPORT / HOW DOES TROY FAUTANU FIT?

I have a few questions about Fautanu’s physical ability. He is a special athlete and moves so well in space. Go watch his drills at the NFL Combine and this guy moves better than others in space. Fautanu has excellent lateral agility and can cut off his outside shoulder and mirror back inside on counters as a result. He has very little tightness in his lower body, and that fluidity allows him to take some absurd angles during the run game and make some impressive recovery reps.

Fautanu has no experience on the right side, which is important for the Steelers if they are serious about moving Broderick Jones back to the left side. Fautanu being picked would almost ensure that Jones sticks at right tackle, especially since Fautanu is a prototypical left tackle in his build. But his athleticism in space and on the front of wide zone runs would give Pittsburgh the ability to do some serious damage on the ground.

While he is nasty and a finisher, Fautanu can play with reckless abandonment, which causes him to whiff or fall off blocks. As such, there are some holding penalties that pop up on film, and a few were called on him, too. Fautanu is a bit too dependent on his athleticism and can get caught drifting to his spot rather than getting onto his spot. As such, Fautanu can be sped up at the end of his depth, and open the gate inside or expose his chest at times.

Fautanu is an excellent prospect and quite pro-ready, which is a plus given that he will be 24 in his rookie season. The knee injury aside Fautanu would fit well in the Steelers scheme, and if he does not work out at tackle in his rookie season, the team could kick him inside for years to come.