Now that the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2023 season is getting underway after the team finished above .500 but failed to make the postseason last year, we turn our attention to the next chapter of Steelers football and everything that entails. One thing that it means is that some stock evaluations are going to start taking on more specific contexts as we get into the season, reflecting more immediate plusses and minus rather than trends over long periods. The nature of the evaluation, whether short-term or long-term, will be noted in the reasoning section below.
Player: T Broderick Jones
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: The rookie now seems firmly entrenched in the starting lineup, preparing to make his fourth overall start and his third at right tackle. Despite his experience leaning heavily on the left side, he has looked comfortable and natural on the right.
Have the Steelers found themselves three starters at the top of their draft class? Well, it’s looking that way early on, though fans were also excited about the 2016 class that ultimately gave Javon Hargrave as a lasting contributor who was too expensive to keep in Pittsburgh.
Whom they will be able to afford to keep is a worry for down the line, however. Right now, their top three rookies have all shown great promise. Their top pick, first-round T Broderick Jones, was the last of the trio to be granted the opportunity to contribute significantly, but he may have the most impact.
At least that’s what the results of the run game might suggest over the past two weeks. The Steelers have rushed for 371 yards in their past two games since Jones was plugged into the starting lineup at right tackle. They only topped 100 yards in two of their first seven before that.
Jones certainly isn’t singularly responsible for that, but there’s no doubt that he’s made a difference. His athletic ability to get out in space and work on dart pulls has added another wrinkle that has helped open up the sidelines as well as the second level.
He’s still a work in progress, which is something you expect for most rookies, but the level of natural ability that he displays at right tackle is encouraging. He hardly played right tackle at all during his college career at Georgia, though he claims to have practiced there a fair amount.
Still, even considering his rookie season, they had him working exclusively at left tackle for the vast majority of the time up until Chukwuma Okorafor’s recent benching. It can be reasonably assumed that he will only continue to grow more comfortable playing on the right side the more that he does it.