When the Steelers traded up from the seventeenth pick to the fourteenth pick, there was no doubt who their selection would be. With Paris Johnson, Darnell Wright, and Peter Skoronski already off the draft board, the logical conclusion was that they were taking Broderick Jones. That was who they selected. Everyone seemed satisfied with the selection.
With that selection, it seemed everyone had penciled him in as the Steelers starting left tackle before any OTA’S or their first mini-camp. Now that the Steelers mini-camp is over, we await the start of training camp in July. However, there seems to be a muddled outlook on Jones's performance and questions about whether he will get the nod as the starter. Of course, this prognosis depends on who you listen to.
Was Jones a winner or loser of Steelers OTA’s?
Once the Steelers schedule was determined, we knew whoever gets the nod as the starting left tackle would have the daunting challenge. The starter will face Nick Bosa, Myles Garrett, and Maxx Crosby in the team's first three games. Not an easy task either for Jones or Dan Moore. Will the Steelers' eventual starter be determined by who they face in the first three games? No, it won't. However, based on some online analyses of Jones’s performance, you get an eerie sense that some think it could.
Mark Kaboly in his article in the Athletic, led the charge in questioning Jones’s performance in Steelers OTA's, stating the mini-camp winners were Connor Heyward, Allen Robinson, and Dan Moore, and went on to say the rookies didn’t impress. However, by putting Dan Moore on the winner's list, what exactly is he saying about Jones’s performance?
Well, that’s just it; he shies away from explaining that and bases his opinion on the notion Dan Moore seems to have improved from last season to this season. He went on to highlight praise from the Steelers and the improvement Moore seemed to show. Thus he continued by saying for Jones to start, he would have to come out in training camp and overtake Moore. Honestly, it seems he’s more of a fan of Moore keeping his starting role.
Take Kaboly out of the equation, then you have Kevin Dotson’s prediction for Broderick Jones. He stated he felt Dan Moore would win the starting job and Broderick Jones would sit on the bench for the 2023 season. Ok, fine, that’s a possibility, but is it realistic? He really never qualified his prediction with anything factual that could lead one to conclude his thoughts had any merit.
Thus we are left to assume that Dotson’s statements perhaps have more to do with the fact he has a good friendship with Dan Moore as they have played together on the line, and he is rooting for Moore to win the starting job. Even Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writer Brian Batko thinks Dotson’s opinion if anything was naive at best. Or perhaps it’s due to the Steelers acquisition of Isaac Seumalo, which essentially relegates Dotson to the bench until injuries occur in the regular season.
In defense of Steelers rookie Broderick Jones
Despite the naysayers who think perhaps Jones might not be as good as initially thought, others have reported the opposite. Brooke Pryor of ESPN reported that while Jones did not get many first-team reps, he earned solid reviews from coaches and teammates. Her conclusion is that Jones will eventually be the guy the Steelers intended when they drafted him.
Even Steelers offensive line coach Pat Meyer had glowing reviews of Jones. Sure you might perhaps need to take his comments with a grain of salt he did say that Jones was talented, young, athletic, and has all the tools. He also noted that Jones wants to be great and has the right attitude. Given that endorsement, it’s really going to come down to his performance in Latrobe.
If you're not convinced, Arthur Motes did have a comment or two on Kaboly’s Athletic article. His thoughts were, how can you grade an offensive lineman as a loser when they are not in full pads and out there hitting and running the plays? His conclusion is you can’t. Another point that gets lost in Kaboly’s article is that even in mini-camp, the Steelers did, in some instances, move Dan Moore to the right tackle while keeping Jones on the left.
The bottom line is that there is no winner or loser situation in relation to Broderick Jones at the end of the mini-camp. In the world of sports writing, sometimes writers, in trying to do an analysis, come up with these lists to drive internet traffic. Does it mean Jones was a loser? No, it does not.
Now it does not mean Jones will win the starting job either, but if there is any winner or loser, that will be a discussion after the Steelers are finished at Latrobe and get ready to take the field for their season opener. At that point, they will have made their final cuts, and we will know then if Jones starts or will begin his career as a backup.