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2024 NFL Draft

Steelers Draft Grades: Pittsburgh Hits Grand Slam with Troy Fautanu

The Pittsburgh Steelers hit a home run by selecting Washington offensive tackle Troy Fautanu in the first round.



Pittsburgh Steelers Troy Fautanu

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers turned in their draft card on Thursday night, and it was Washington offensive tackle Troy Fautanu at No. 20 overall after a slight slide for the Huskies product.

Fautanu is a fantastic athlete who brings versatility and smarts to the table. I think Fautanu is wholly unique in this class because he is athletic but plays with a nasty demeanor. Taliese Fuaga fits that bill, too, but he might move inside to guard, and Fautanu’s tape, specifically with his hand usage and how he protects his outside shoulder, will allow him to stick at tackle.

He is a natural left tackle, so their dilemma is now whether to flip Fautanu to right tackle or keep Broderick Jones over there. It could go either way, but Fautanu has the chops to be versatile in five positions and is one of the crazier athletes the tackle position has seen recently.

Go watch his drills at the NFL Combine. This guy moves better than others in space. Fautanu has excellent lateral agility and can cut off his outside shoulder and mirror back inside on counters as a result. He has very little tightness in his lower body, and that fluidity allows him to take some absurd angles during the run game and make some impressive recovery reps.

But Fautanu is a plug-and-play guy, and the Steelers could only draft in the first round. There was no one else like this down the Steelers draft board; realistically, that would fall to 51 or 84 and start right off the rip. Fautanu is not a perfect player, but he works well in space, gets out in the screen game, and is an excellent pass protector.

While he is nasty and a finisher, Fautanu can play with reckless abandonment, which causes him to whiff or fall off blocks. As such, some holding penalties popped up on film, and a few were called on him, too. Fautanu is a bit too dependent on his athleticism and can get caught drifting to his spot rather than getting onto his spot.

But despite those flaws, Fautanu was my third-rated offensive tackle in this class and a gem for the Steelers to land. It was hard to see him falling to 20th overall, but once he did, it was obvious that he should have been the pick, and he was for the team. Fautanu is an excellent prospect and quite pro-ready, which is a plus, given that he will be 24 in his rookie season.

In other words, expect him to work right into Smith’s scheme wherever he plays and elevate the offensive line immediately. It’s about as ideal of a pick as they could have pulled off.

Grade: A