Troy Fautanu Likely To Enter Steelers Training Camp In Backup Role

A few of this year’s first-round tackle draftees are being asked to change positions. Troy Fautanu had been rumored to be headed to right tackle, and the No. 20 overall pick confirmed that is where he expects the Steelers to slot him in his first NFL training camp.

Fautanu’s expected move to right tackle is part of an interesting plan for the Steelers, who are preparing to use a 2023 right tackle on the left side and pit two 2023 LTs against each other on the right side. After three years as the Steelers’ left tackle starter, Dan Moore Jr. is projected to switch sides to accommodate Broderick Jonesrumored LT move.

During Moore’s time at left tackle, the Steelers used back-to-back first-round picks to bolster the position. As the three-year starter heads into a contract year, he could be moving toward free agency from a backup role. That does not appear to be in the cards just yet.

Moore appeared far ahead of Fautanu during the offseason program, The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly notes, while adding the veteran’s lead should be expected due to the experience gap (subscription required). But Fautanu will need to unseat a 49-start player. Pittsburgh’s Moore plan has been rather complicated, as the incumbent LT remained in his blindside post during OTAs. But the expectation remains he will move to right tackle.

The Steelers are certainly grooming Fautanu to start opposite Jones, who manned the left side for Georgia in 2022 before replacing Chukwuma Okorafor at Pittsburgh’s RT midway through the season. Rumors about Jones pushing Moore last summer emerged, but the former fourth-round pick held off the high-end prospect. The Steelers are believed to have viewed Fautanu as a superior prospect to Jones, so it will be interesting to see if the rookie can mount a strong challenge once the pads come on.

Harshly assessing Moore’s pass protection, Pro Football Focus slotted the Texas A&M alum outside the top 60 among tackles last year. The advanced metrics site charged him with eight sacks allowed; among tackles who started full seasons, PFF rated Moore as the worst pass protector. With one of this era’s most sack-prone quarterbacks (Russell Wilson) likely to start, this sets up as a shaky combination.

Moore, 25, is most likely playing his final season in Pittsburgh. With free agency in sight, this profiles as a pivotal position battle. Moore’s experience edge will matter, of course, but the position change stands to negate that to some degree. He has all of five NFL snaps at RT.

The fifth tackle chosen this year, Fautanu checked in as the No. 11 overall prospect on Daniel Jeremiah’s big board. Fautanu spent the past two seasons as a full-time starter at Washington, including a 2023 campaign where he earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors. He joins Joe Alt, JC Latham, Tyler Guyton, Taliese Fuaga and Graham Barton as first-round O-linemen set to change positions as rookies. Barton is moving from left tackle back to center; the others are flipping tackle spots.

As the Steelers’ Jones rookie-year plan showed, Moore beating out Fautanu in camp would not relegate the rookie to full-season backup duty. But Moore’s early lead here could also point to a developmental season for the team’s hopeful long-term RT.

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