The Steelers traded up for Georgia’s Broderick Jones in the NFL Draft

Georgia's Broderick
Georgia's Broderick


When Mike Tomlin attended the Georgia’s Broderick a tackle to protect the blind side of second-year quarterback Kenny Pickett. At the time, three tackles had already Pro Day in 2022, he spent the night before dining with the Bulldogs’ draft-eligible prospects, as is customary when he hits the scouting circuit in March.

Tomlin asked the assembled players to name a prospect he would like to have dinner within 2023.

That’s how Tomlin became aware of Broderick Jones, the Georgia wide tackle the Pittsburgh Steelers selected with their first-round draft pick Thursday night.

“Universally, Broderick was the name that got the name,” Tomlin said. “That was the first time I heard his name. In examining it, I see why they hold it in such high regard.

In 2022, his only full season as a starter at left tackle, Jones and his 6-foot-5, 311-pound frame developed into a first-round prospect. The trouble was, he developed so well that the Steelers weren’t sure they could pick him up.

That all changed when general manager Omar Khan, overseeing his first draft, traded up three spots to select Jones with the No. 14 overall pick. Khan sent the Steelers’ No. 17 pick and a fourth-round pick (No. 120 overall) to jump ahead of the New York Jets and select Jones.

“Broderick was a player that we recognized as a great addition to our team,” Khan said. “We saw how the draft was going, we started Georgia’s Broderick making phone calls in an opportunity to trade him and get him. We are excited. I think he’s going to be a great Steeler for a long time.”

The Steelers can only hope that Jones does better than the previous tackle they selected in the first round. It was back in 1996 when the Steelers, with Bill Kohr as coach and Tom Donahoe running the player personnel department, picked Jaimaine Stephens, who washed up after two years and 11 Steelers starts.

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Jones, a redshirt sophomore with just 19 career collegiate carries, turns 22 in May.

“He’s gotten big time,” coach Mike Tomlin said. “I’d also say he’s a really good player right now.”

As a rookie, Jones will be expected to compete for a starting spot with two-year starter Dan Moore Jr. at left tackle or incumbent right Georgia’s Broderick tackle Chuks Okorafor. Johnson had limited experience at right tackle in games but said he rotated between positions every day in practice at Georgia.

He played two games as a freshman reserve and then started the Bulldogs’ final four games in 2021 at left tackle before solidifying his role as a starter last fall.

The Steelers met with Jones at the NFL Combine and again at Georgia’s pro day. They also hosted an official Top-30 visit on April 15 at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.

Still, Jones wasn’t sure where he would go in the first round.

“I didn’t expect anything,” he said. “I was waiting for my name. The Steelers did everything they could to get me. I am happy with what happened.”

When Jones left the Steelers’ practice facility that day, he admitted to having a good feeling about the organization.

“I felt like I was home,” Jones said. “It felt like I was at UGA, it felt like there was energy. Everything that was talked about was necessary. … At the end of the day, I was in love with the Steelers when I went and I became one.

With prized cornerbacks Christian Gonzalez and Joey Porter Jr. still on the board, the Steelers traded up to acquire Georgia’s Broderick a tackle to protect the blind side of second-year quarterback Kenny Pickett. At the time, three tackles had already been selected – Ohio State’s Paris Johnson Jr., Tennessee’s Darnell Wright, and Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski. Illinois cornerback Devon Witherspoon was long gone after being selected at No. 5 overall.

When Wright went to the Chicago Bears at No. 10 and the Tennessee Titans selected Skoronski, that left Johnson as the only viable option with a high first-round grade.

It was just a matter of whether the Steelers could make a deal to get him.

“You call and feel what people want to do,” Khan said. “Some people are not, some are maybe. Stay close to the phone and keep in touch with clubs that may be interested.

The cost was also modest.

“We had a high level of preparation,” Tomlin said. “We weren’t willing to mortgage anything more than a third-day pick.”

Jones was impressed that the Steelers were willing to move to acquire him.

“It means a lot to me,” he said. “I can’t wait to get to Pittsburgh and start the tour. It’s a whole new journey. I can’t wait to start the process.

Joe Rooter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe via email at or via Twitter.

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