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2024 NFL Draft

Watch: Steelers First Round Pick Troy Fautanu Speaks at Rookie Minicamp

Pittsburgh Steelers rookie tackle Troy Fautanu is hoping to make his mark, even if that means switching to right tackle.

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Pittsburgh Steelesr Troy Fautanu

PITTSBURGH — General manager Omar Khan said earlier this offseason, at the 2024 NFL Combine, that the Pittsburgh Steelers still see Broderick Jones’ future at left tackle. Still, head coach Mike Tomlin declared at the 2024 NFL owner’s meetings last month that his position for the 2024 season is very much still up in the air. But if you want to believe their actions, Troy Fautanu started rookie minicamp at right tackle, not left tackle. That could signal Fautanu is going to play on the right side to start his NFL career.

“Yeah, not sure, you’d have to ask them that,” Fautanu said when asked if the plan was to play him at right tackle. “I’m just doing what they are telling me to do.”

Jones played most of his rookie season at right tackle rather than his natural left tackle spot, while Dan Moore Jr. manned the left side. But Troy Fautanu is learning the right side, and he did play there some at Washington in practice but never had a live in-game rep at that spot. The biggest difference? Reversing everything, including footwork and the dominant hand.

“The biggest challenge is flipping the footwork,” Fautanu said. “You’ve just been playing left for so long, so shout out to my coach back in college, who is making sure that we are comfortable playing both sides, so I’m ready to work and learn there. Whenever we did individual drills every day, we did right hand stances and left hand stances.”

Khan’s comments at the combine suggested that they want to put Jones back at left tackle. Why wait? Moore was one of the worst offensive tackles in the league last year. He allowed eight sacks in 2023, which was tied for eighth-most in the league, according to Pro Football Focus. Moore’s PFF pass-blocking grade was 39.7, which ranked as the sixth-lowest in the league.

“I’ve said this before, but versatility on the offensive line is important. (Jones) proved he could play right tackle last year but he was drafted to be a left tackle. And eventually, he will be a left tackle. When that is, time will tell, but he was drafted to be a left tackle,” Khan said at the NFL Combine.

Pittsburgh Steelers OT Troy Fautanu

Steelers first-round pick offensive tackle Troy Fautanu during his introductory press conference on April 27, 2024. — Ed Thompson/ Steelers Now

New first-round draft pick Troy Fautanu could bring about these changes for Jones. Fautanu played left tackle for a left-handed quarterback at Washington. He’s used to being on the quarterback’s front side. He’s also a little bit shorter and has slightly shorter arms, so he’s therefore a little bit easier for a quarterback see over (perhaps of elevated importance with the short-of-stature Russell Wilson as a passer) and will have a slightly harder time with the best of the best edge rushers, most of which play on the offense’s left.

He’s also very pro-ready, so putting him into a place without competition should be an issue. Even with Jones’ one year in the NFL under his belt, I think you could make a pretty good argument that Fautanu is still the more NFL-ready of the two right now.

Jones will be more comfortable on the left side, and since he has a very high ceiling, letting him work there ought to help him reach it. Starting him there eliminates him bouncing from side to side throughout the season. And it seems the Steelers are on the path towards doing that as Fautanu starts on the right side.

Fautanu hopes to make that switch to right tackle smooth and steady if that is the plan for the team. He will have help from those around him, including Isaac Seumalo, who Fautanu will have right next to his locker.

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