Steelers' perfect first-round target isn't being talked about enough

This dream-scenario prospect for Steelers isn't as far-fetched as you think.
NFL Combine
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Every year just before the NFL Draft, Pittsburgh Steelers fans fall in love with a few names as potential first-round picks. We hear a lot of buzz surrounding certain players concerning our team, and we get fixated on a few names who could wind up being the selection.

In 2021, these were frequently talked-about players around Steelers circles like Najee Harris, Travis Etienne, and Creed Humphrey. In 2022, the quarterbacks were all the buzz as Pittsburgh was clearly intent on drafting one with their top pick. Last season, Pittsburgh expressed a great deal of interest in prospects like Paris Johnson, Broderick Jones, and Joey Porter Jr.

This year, those fan-favorite names keep popping up. Following the Senior Bowl, Oregon center Jackson Powers-Johnson was all the buzz. In recent weeks, players like Georgia OT Amarius Mims and Clemson CB Nate Wiggins have been linked to the Steelers with Pro Day dinner meetings and Top 30 visits.

But there's one excellent prospect who isn't talked about enough in connection with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Steelers fans should be talking about OT Taliese Fuaga

Taliese Fuaga hasn't been talked about nearly enough in Steelers circles, but he should be a player every fan is salivating over the chance to land in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft.

At 6'5 3/4'' and 324 pounds, Fuaga tested as a 96th percentile athlete, according to Relative Athletic Score. As Mike Mayock would say, his nimble feet for a player his size make him a dancing bear at his position.

But Fuaga is so much more than just a big, athletic tackle. The Oregon State product is ferocious as a run-blocker with a nasty streak to his game. He also has strung together back-to-back phenomenal seasons after playing just 55 snaps as a freshman.

The collection of his size, strength, tape, and nasty demeanor make him a top-15 player set to enter the 2024 NFL Draft. The question becomes: why would Steelers fans be talking about him if he's going to be long gone?

That might not be the case. Even though Fuaga is the 14th overall player on the NFL Mock Draft Database's consensus board, he could slide past the middle of the first round. The pre-draft meetings with teams show where the interests lie.

Fuaga has the Top 30 pre-draft visits with teams like the Steelers, Cowboys, Bengals, Jaguars, and Buccaneers. This seems to suggest that the NFL has an idea that he will slip into the second half of the first round.

Fuaga is hardly guaranteed to be available at pick 20 for Pittsburgh, but who's to stop Omar Khan -- the GM who made four total trades during the draft in 2023 -- to move up a few spots to secure one of the best prospects this year? After all, he moved up in the first round for an offensive tackle just last season.

The decision at OT could also come down to a preference for teams. For example, if teams like the Jaguars and Bengals value the length and college programs of players like Amarius Mims and JC Latham, perhaps that's all it takes for Fuaga to fall into Pittsburgh's lap.

The Pittsburgh Steelers used a formal visit on Taliese Fuaga at the NFL Combine as well as a Top 30 visit (in addition to seeing him at the Senior Bowl). This is more pre-draft interest than the Steelers have shown in any of the top three center prospects this year.

It's time for Taliese Fuaga to enter the conversation as the potential top pick of the Steelers