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2024 NFL Draft

Top OL Troy Fautanu Maintains He’s a Tackle, Blasts IOL Push: ‘Lazy Analysis’

Pittsburgh Steelers target and top OL Troy Fautanu believes that it is lazy to try to push him to the interior of the offensive line.



Pittsburgh Steelers 2024 NFL Draft Prospect Troy Fautanu

The Pittsburgh Steelers have several options for tackle at the 20th overall pick as it stands before the draft, and with the deep class, it would seem likely that the team dips into that depth. And it seems the team is interested in the guys from the west coast, as Steelers offensive line coach Pat Meyer was in Seattle for Washington Pro Day, according to Huskies Wire’s Alex Katson.

According to Jordan Schultz, the Steelers, potentially Meyer, met with tackle Troy Fautanu before the team’s pro day. That’s another sign of interest for Fautanu. The team hosted him for a Top-3o visit on Monday.

But could Fautanu maybe not just be a tackle option, but an option at center? The Athletic’s Dane Brugler believes that Fautanu is five-spot versatile and could fit in there.

“Overall, Fautanu is explosive on the move and at contact with the foot quickness, body control and temperament to stack wins in both pass protection and as a run blocker in the NFL. While he has the talent to remain at tackle, his skill set also projects well to guard and center and he offers legitimate five-position potential at the next level,” Brugler wrote in the Beast, his draft guide.

However, Fautanu does not believe that he needs to move at all. In an interview with Justin Melo of the Draft Network, Fautanu discredited the notion that he should move to center or guard.

“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.”

Fautanu is the group sleeper not discussed nearly enough among Steelers fans, but he makes sense. He measured with 34 1/2-inch arms at the NFL Combine. The Steelers under Andy Weidl and Omar Khan have strategically put the cut off line around that mark. Fautanu checks the box, which puts him in the mix at 20th overall. Add on a 1.71 10-yard split and an impressive set of position drills, and this needs to be at least thought of significantly.

Daniel Jeremiah mocked Fautanu to the Steelers in February. While Fautanu did play mostly left tackle with the Huskies, Jeremiah seems to think that his best NFL fit is at guard as well, suggesting that he could play next to Steelers 2023 first-round pick Broderick Jones on the offensive line.

“Fautanu fits the physical identity the Steelers are looking to create,” Jeremiah wrote. “He can play anywhere on the line, but it would be fun to watch him line up next to 2023 first-round pick Broderick Jones.”

The unaddressed problem with that scenario is that the Steelers have all three top guards from 2023 under contract for the 2024 season. So how would Fautanu slot into a starting lineup beside Jones? Or could he actually slide right in at center?

One way would be for starting right guard James Daniels to move to center to replace Mason Cole. Though Daniels has not played a single snap of center in his two seasons with the Steelers, he did take about 500 snaps there with the Chicago Bears back in 2019. It’s unclear if Daniels would even be interested in such a move. But if Fautanu can become a tackle or center, there will no questions to answer. He simply can stick it out, and his movement skills are an excellent fit in Arthur Smith’s scheme.