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2024 NFL Draft

Why the Steelers Broke Pro Day Tradition to Land Troy Fautanu

The Pittsburgh Steelers landed Washington offensive tackle Troy Fautanu, but it took some special circumstances to break pro day tradition.

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Pittsburgh Steelers OT Troy Fautanu

PITTSBURGH — The streak is over. Since 2010, the Pittsburgh Steelers have gone to every first-round pick pro day with either Mike Tomlin, the general manager, or both in attendance. But Troy Fautanu brought about some particular circumstances. The Steelers had an in and went to a pro day with the new staff there coming from Washington.

Tomlin and Omar Khan did not make the trip out West to see Fautanu. But offensive line coach Pat Meyer did. What was the reason the Steelers did not need to make that trip? Expert intel is already in their sphere. Former Washington head coach Kalen DeBoer took the job at Alabama, meaning when Khan and Tomlin already had intel from the previous coach about Fautanu.

Then, there is the fact that Mark Bruener, the Steelers West Coast area scout, was able to get an inside look at the Washington program. Bruener’s son, Carson, plays football there, so it naturally made sense that they had an in. But they were all comfortable to get Fautanu because of Bruener.

“Our scouts early on really liked him. I joke with Mark Bruener that the only school I think he watches is Washington. He really likes him,” Khan said.

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 dominant run game that will 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.

The Steelers, through talking to people around Fautanu, fell in love with his passion. They met with him at the NFL Combine and brought him in for a Top-3o visit. All of that ended up coming together to make Fautanu the perfect pick to break trends. They picked along the offensive line in back-to-back first rounds for the first time ever and cracked the pro-day trends. That is the definition of a change up and breaking tradition.