This iconic OT makes Steelers future with Broderick Jones look all the brighter

Steelers, Broderick Jones
Steelers, Broderick Jones / Stacy Revere/GettyImages

As we inch closer and closer to the NFL season, I have grown increasingly hopeful for what all my Steelers could be capable of, looking at their roster and seeing guys that I can’t wait to watch pop off throughout the coming months.

When approaching those guys with an eye as observant (and biased) as mine, I find myself drawing comparisons between them and legends of the past—and sharing said comparisons with all of Steeler Nation.

I’ve already paired Calvin Austin III with Antwaan Randle El and Najee Harris with Le’Veon Bell, but when talking about the future of the franchise from this moment forward, there is no one with a louder call for a comparison than Broderick Jones.

Jones, an offensive tackle out of Georgia, was Pittsburgh’s first-round pick back in April, and he will soon be expected to take over as one of the leading forces in solidifying its O-line.

When combining how the Steelers prioritized him with that monumental task, he becomes one of the most important pieces in the black-and-yellow puzzle for the 2023-24 campaign. With that in mind, who wouldn’t want to know the icon that embodies his potential?

Luckily, the icon in question was easy to find, and he was especially so because of my decision to branch out beyond former Steelers this time around. As a result, we not only got a man who is all the more likely to be Jones’ perfect comparison but also who is by far the greatest talent to be mentioned in this series: Willie Roaf.

What makes Willie Roaf stand out?

Roaf was, of course, an offensive tackle, and played in the NFL from 1993 to 2005 (technically 2006). In his thirteen seasons, he earned 11 Pro Bowl selections and nine All-Pro selections while playing for the Saints and Chiefs. Such an impressive résumé landed him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s 2012 class.

That decorated description is more than enough to convey what makes Roaf so memorable, but what makes Jones’ resemblance to him so striking? In all honesty, a simpler question would be what doesn't, as the list of similarities between the two tackles covers a variety of categories. First up: their dimensions.

According to the NFL’s prospect info, Jones’ height and weight were penciled in at 6’5”, 311 lbs.; that leaves him half an inch taller and three pounds heavier than Roaf was at the 1993 combine. In other words, aside from some extremely minute details, the two are practically the same size (though they wear it somewhat differently).

But just how precise can we get with these kinds of stats? What about stuff like hand and arm measurements? Well, it appears that the two studs share a boat in those contexts as well. Jones’ hands came in at 10 ⅝” and Roaf’s at 10 ¾”. As for arms, Jones’ are 34 ¾” and Roaf’s are 34 ⅞”. Again, very close company.

All of that is enough for me to declare that Broderick Jones and Willie Roaf are virtually the same people on paper and that alone should catch the former some serious attention. However, what’s on paper doesn’t mean jack when discussing what they bring to the table from a visual perspective. So, it would also be good to know how they stack up against one another in regard to their on-field impacts themselves.

What resemblances do the two share on the gridiron?

As we have with every other point covered today, we will start with the analysis of Jones first. The following is an excerpt from Steelers contributing writer/editor Dale Lolley:

“A better run blocker than pass blocker, Jones has elite movement for the position, getting to the second level with ease. He also finishes well, showing a mean streak when it comes to driving opposing defenders out of the play.”

We will now take a look at two excerpts from’s write-up on Roaf (as Pine Bluff, AR is his hometown):

“Roaf became known for his blocking ability and his considerable speed for his size.”

“Roaf played a pivotal role in run blocking on the offense, with the most rushing touchdowns during back-to-back seasons in NFL history.”

These praises convey how Jones and Roaf share stunning similarities in their performances as well, with them both getting the majority of their credit for run blocking and the quick/aggressive movement that makes them such masters of it. The numbers found in player profiles are one thing, but the fact that they hang their hats on identical playstyles takes the comparability between them to a whole new level.

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Broderick Jones is yet to play a snap for the Steelers, so we know nothing about how good or bad he will ultimately look in black and yellow. But nonetheless, it’s awesome to know that so much potential is there. If you’re a tackle that can be descriptively compared to the great Willie Roaf, you’re a tackle that Steelers fans should be eager to watch.