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Troy Fautanu Describes Emotions Leading Up to Draft Call

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Pittsburgh Steelers OT Troy Fautanu

Pittsburgh Steelers’ first-round selection Troy Fautanu recently joined the Softy and Dick Show on 950 KJR in Seattle, and during the interview he described the inner details of his draft day experience.

According to Fautanu, Steelers general manager Omar Khan was on pins and needles.

“They had called me pretty early. They called me earlier than usual because Omar [Khan] and Coach [Mike] Tomlin were basically like on edge trying to get me. So, while we were sitting there waiting, throughout the entire LA Rams pick, who had number 19. And basically he [Omar Khan] called me while the Rams were on the clock, and he was asking me, ‘Are you getting any other phone calls?’ Because they didn’t know if someone was gonna trade up to get me. So he was kinda on edge as well, trying to make sure no one else was gonna call. But I told him when I figured out who it was, I told him, I was like, ‘Mr. Khan, I’m not dropping this phone.’ It was almost like it was meant to be,” Fautanu said, via SteelersNation.com.

Alex Kozora of Steelers Depot noticed that scout Kelvin Fisher said ‘7 of 20’ in the video that showed Fautanu’s call with Mike Tomlin, signaling that the team likely got someone they thought was the 7th best player in the entire class.

But apparently, it could have been much different. The Philadelphia Eagles tried to land Troy Fautanu, according to Sports Illustrated’s John McMullen. Philadelphia pegged Fautanu and J.C. Latham as targets before they landed Quinyon Mitchell with their first-round pick.

“Per McMullen’s source, the Eagles were particularly interested in Alabama offensive tackle JC Latham, who went No. 7 overall to the Tennessee Titans, and Washington offensive guard Troy Fautanu, who went to the Pittsburgh Steelers at No. 20. The Eagles didn’t have to trade up before snagging Mitchell a few picks later,” they wrote.

Washington cross-trained Fautanu in practice at every position. That includes right tackle, which could be his position if the Steelers kick Broderick Jones to the left side.

“I pretty much played every position in college. I played the left side mainly in games, but our coach did a really good job of cross-training us and making sure that we were ready for any opportunity that presented itself. Yeah, I’m comfortable anywhere, man. I’m just ready to contribute,” Fautanu said.

Many people in the pre-draft process thought that Fautanu could be a guard or even a center at the next level.

Fautanu does not have the typical height of an NFL tackle, which likely started the questions about whether he’d be able to stick at the position at the next level. Frequently, tackles with concerns about their length are required to move to guard in the NFL.

Fautanu has long arms, however, which gives him an unusual frame. Head coach Mike Tomlin is not concerned about Fautanu’s 6’3 6/8″ height.

“You know, what are we talking about? If he was a quarter of an inch taller you might not be asking that. “He’s got great arm length, and his tape is very, very impressive,” Tomlin said during his post-pick press conference.

Fautanu called the projections that moved him to guard “lazy analysis,” and while he said on Thursday that he is willing to play wherever the Steelers want him to, it’s clear that he sees himself as a tackle.

“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 in an April interview with The Draft Network. “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.”