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2024 NFL Draft

Steelers Were Stunned Troy Fautanu Fell Into Their Laps

The Pittsburgh Steelers never thought that Troy Fautanu would fall right to them, instead expecting someone like Amarius Mims to fall to them.



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)

The Pittsburgh Steelers had no inkling that Troy Fautanu would fall right to them at No. 20 overall. According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, they thought that Fautanu could go as early as 10th overall, and they had their eyes on another player — Georgia offensive tackle Amarius Mims. Mims was certainly an intriguing prospect with his massive size and extreme athleticism. The one big knock with him is his lack of experience, however. He started just eight games in college.

“The Steelers thought Troy Fautanu could go as high as No. 10 to the Jets and didn’t expect him to fall. GM Omar Khan worked the phones just in case, before Fautanu fell to the Steelers at No. 20. Georgia tackle Amarius Mims, who went to Cincinnati at No. 18, was firmly on Pittsburgh’s radar, too,” Fowler wrote about the decision in the first round.

Of course, Troy Fautanu instead ended up dropping right to them, and Mims actually went before Fautanu, with the Cincinnati Bengals deciding to scoop him up.

NFL Network lead draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah does not see Mims as a guy who can start day one, and he might even fall to the second round. That was always a matter of upside against inexperience and injury concerns.

Mims addressed the concerns over his eight career starts in college during an appearance on NFL Total Access before the draft. For Mims, it as a non-issue. If the Steelers’ recent trend of ignoring concerns like that continued, it would be no surprise to see them interested in Mims, who is very talented.

“I was fortunate to play at a great O-line room my freshman, sophomore year. Had some strong battles with guys like Warren McLendon, Broderick Jones, Jamaree [Saylor]. So I got some playing time freshman year, wasn’t significant time, but sophomore year was kind of hard, I was in a three tackles rotation where I was with two other good tackles. We all, we were battling every day just for all three of us to get 30-40 reps a game. It is what it is, starts are the starts. But I feel like even with that eight career starts, I don’t think it’s a big deal, in my opinion. ”

The 6-foot-7 3/4, 340-pound Mims certainly has the size and athleticism to be an elite offensive tackle. At the combine, Mims ran a 5.07-second 40-yard dash, an impressive time for that size.

As mentioned, the questions about Mims’ experience level and injury history are valid. After sitting behind Broderick Jones and others his first two seasons, playing in just two games as a sophomore, Mims played only six games due to injury in 2023, before declaring early for the draft.

The Steelers hadn’t bothered to hide their interest in Mims, bringing him into the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex for a pre-draft visit, sending general manager Omar Khan, head coach Mike Tomlin and others to his pro day in Athens, Georgia, and holding a formal interview with him at the 2024 NFL Combine.

The Steelers have drafted three former Georgia Bulldogs in the last two drafts — wide receiver George Pickens, offensive tackle Broderick Jones and tight end Darnell Washington. Mims seemed to line up well as someone who could have been the next product out of Athens to come to the Steel City.

But instead, they ended up going to Seattle and snagging Fautanu since they and most others did not expect him to fall right ot them at 20th overall.

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May 7, 2024 9:38 pm