FRISCO, TEXAS — Pittsburgh Panthers offensive tackle Matt Goncalves already helped bring one championship to the Steel City when Pitt won the ACC Championship in 2021. But now, in the NFL Draft process, Goncalves could land anywhere, but is hoping to stay right where he is in Pittsburgh. He’s not even fully healthy yet after getting surgery following a severe turf toe injury. But he showed up in Frisco for the interview process, and the Steelers will inevitably be one of the teams Goncalves talks to this week. That one might have more stakes in it for him.
Why is he so attached to the city? Goncalves grew up on the football field in Pittsburgh. When he committed to Pitt, everything about his game was raw. Through his first few years with the team, offensive line coach Dave Borbely would turn the heat up on him in film room, quizzing Goncalves about the intricacies of offensive line play. By the time he was ready to play, Goncalves became one of the smartest players on the team. Through doing that, he learned to play on both side at tackle, but feels more comfortable playing right tackle now.
But when the Steelers are right across the hallway from the team, there is a different feeling around a college facility. Goncalves used to get pumped up just watching T.J. Watt take field for the Steelers’ walk-through that morning. It’s adds an entirely unique level of professionalism to the college environment. However, with his friend and former quarterback Kenny Pickett in Pittsburgh, Goncalves does not want to go anywhere else.
“It would mean everything,” Goncalves said. “To play for the Steel City again, the way I ended it off this year, it just didn’t end off the way I wanted it to. The pride, passion, the love I have for the Steel City, I hope it doesn’t go unnoticed because I really do love that city. It would mean the absolute world if I could go win games at Acrisrue Stadium once again.”
Considering the Steelers might want to move Broderick Jones back to left tackle, his natural position, Goncalves becomes an even more intriguing fit. Goncalves’ natural spot at right tackle could mesh well. He feels that he is scheme-diverse and can do whatever a team asks him to do in the run game. But playing with the Steelers would mean more gap concepts for Goncalves. It’s not the main type of runs that he ran under Mark Whipple or Frank Cignetti, but he feels comfortable doing that.
He’s not the only player who expressed a desire to stay home. M.J. Devonshire, a Pitt cornerback and Aliquippa native, would love to stay home. So would Penn Hills alum and Penn State nickel cornerback Daequan Hardy. Given Pittsburgh has needs at all three spots, the speculation will continue on that front, just as it does each draft season.