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2024 NFL Draft

Troy Fautanu Has Medical Questions, Flagged for Knee Injury

Pittsburgh Steelers tackle target Troy Fautanu was flagged for having knee issues, according to Albert Breer, which could be make things complicated.

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Steelers 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.

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.”

But Daniel Jeremiah noted in a conference call on Wednesday that there are multiple teams that could see him moving inside, and one team thinks he could be a center.

“I know one team feels like he could be the best center in the draft,” Jeremiah said. “So, he’s a legit five-position guy.”

And that is what makes Fautanu such a rare player in this entire class. 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. Yet, he has concerning medical questions about his knee, according to Albert Breer.

“Washington OT Troy Fautanu’s knee was flagged. That one was described to me as the sort of issue that shouldn’t be a problem in the short term, but could wind up impacting his longevity in the pros (though his high football character is a factor in making teams feel like he’ll do all he can to take care of it, and give himself the best chance),” Breer wrote.

Fautanu is an outstanding athlete with lightning-quick strikes to combine a unique, aggressive playstyle that keeps defenders off balance on every snap. Fautanu’s snatch-trap move is epic but his playstyle is a bit hectic which does lead to some rough losses on tape. However, he was tested in college and showed the capability of maximizing his length and athleticism, giving credence to the notion that he could potentially be a five-position player on the offensive line.

If the Steelers pick him, he can play up and down the offensive line but plug a key hole at one of their open spots. In reality, that is the importance of Fautanu, who is a fantastic scheme fit with an incredibly high floor. If he is at 20th overall, it is hard to pass him up.