PITTSBURGH — Broderick Jones started only four games for the Georgia Bulldogs in his sophomore season in 2021, so he wasn’t exactly high on draft lists ahead of the 2022 season, despite his status as a five-star prospect entering college.
But he was certainly on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ radar, because of a tip that Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin made to Athens, Georgia this time least year.
Tomlin went to the Georgia pro day last spring and took a group of the Bulldogs out to dinner, including current Steelers wide receiver George Pickens. During that meal, he asked the group who was a Georgia player to watch out for in 2022.
The answer was surprising, as the Georgia players leaned away from more established players like Jalen Carter, Kelee Ringo and Nolan Smith to single out Jones, despite having contributed only four starts to his name.
“I said, give me a name that we’re going to be back for in 12 months,” Tomlin recalled. “And universally, Broderick’s name was the guy’s name that we got 12 months ago. That was the first time I really heard his name.
“In investigating, I see why they held him in such high regard. He’s a really good player right now. But the upside is tremendous. He’s a Diaper Dandy.”
Tomlin uses that phrase to describe the youngest players in the draft class, and that certainly applies to Jones. Still several weeks from his 22nd birthday, Jones is not just relatively inexperienced, he’s physically young, as well.
The Steelers were all over Jones from the beginning of the draft process, meeting with him at the NFL Combine, sending Omar Khan and Tomlin to this 2023 pro day, and hosting him for a pre-draft visit — one of only two prospects in the entire draft class to hit for the cycle of pre-draft interest.
Oh, and while he was in Athens, Tomlin made sure to ask about which Georgia players he should be scouting in the 2024 NFL Draft. But he’s not saying who.
“I’ll keep that under my cap,” he said. “But nice try.”