Broderick Jones

OL Rumors: Steelers, 49ers, Jets, Fins, Pugh

The Steelers may have executed a permanent switch at right tackle, and Chukwuma Okorafor believes it came because of comments he made near the end of the team’s Week 8 loss to the Jaguars. Pittsburgh benched Okorafor for its Thursday-night game against Tennessee, moving first-round pick Broderick Jones into the lineup. Okorafor said (via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Brian Batko) the Steelers benched him because he was “acting out” toward the end of the Pittsburgh-Jacksonville game. Mike Tomlin said (via The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly) Jones was deserving of an opportunity and helped the Steelers “provide a spark.”

Signed to a three-year, $29.25MM deal in 2022, Okorafor has been the Steelers’ starting right tackle since 2020. The team drafted Jones with the intent on making him its future left tackle, but a configuration in which left tackle Dan Moore moved to the right side to accommodate the rookie was floated as the more likely scenario this offseason. Since the Week 9 change, Jones and Okorafor said (via Kaboly and the Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac) they expect the Moore-Jones starting duo to remain due to Jones receiving the first-team reps this week. The Steelers’ depth chart lists Jones as the RT starter, though the Georgia product said he would prefer to play left tackle, where he lined up for the SEC powerhouse. Okorafor believes what he said has resulted in “significant” ramifications but maintains his benching was not performance-based, creating an interesting storyline to follow in Pittsburgh.

Here are some O-line subplots from elsewhere around the NFL:

  • Missing the past two games with an ankle injury, Trent Williams returned to a limited practice Thursday. Kyle Shanahan said the 49ers‘ All-Pro left tackle has dealt with more than a low ankle sprain, via 49ersWebZone.com’s David Bonilla. The 49ers lost both the games Williams missed, after dropping from the unbeaten ranks — in Cleveland — following Williams’ injury-driven exit in Week 6. A limited practice represents a good sign for Williams’ Week 10 availability and San Francisco’s offensive capabilities.
  • The Jets may soon be without yet another offensive lineman. Robert Saleh described Billy Turner as encountering a “concerning” injury, and NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport notes the veteran blocker suffered a broken bone in his hand. This will leave Turner’s status uncertain for the Jets’ Week 10 tilt. Turner has not practiced this week, pointing to an absence. The Jets have turned to Turner at guard in the wake of Connor McGovern and Wes Schweitzer‘s IR trips. The team is likely to have Duane Brown back, however; the 38-year-old tackle — who remains on IR — has practiced fully this week. Saleh recently pointed to Brown’s return kicking Mekhi Becton back to right tackle.
  • Although left tackle Terron Armstead came off IR in time to face the Chiefs, the Dolphins played their Germany game without both starting guards. Isaiah Wynn is on IR with a potential season-ending injury, and Robert Hunt missed the game because of a hamstring ailment. Wynn fill-in Robert Jones also left the game, due to a hyperextended knee. While Mike McDaniel said Jones does not need surgery, the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson notes Lester Cotton and 2022 left guard starter Liam Eichenberg are set to vie for the starting role before the Dolphins return to action in Week 11. A third-year UDFA who made his first career start in Week 9, Jones is likely to miss some time, per McDaniel.
  • Justin Pugh signed a one-year, $1.43MM deal to rejoin the Giants last month. Pugh’s second Giants contract includes an incentive package worth $2.1MM, he revealed on his NetWorth Podcast (via the New York Daily News’ Pat Leonard). Pugh can earn part of that $2.1MM by hitting the 50%, 70% and 90% playing-time thresholds from the point he debuted (Week 6). Despite the October arrival, Pugh has started — at both guard and tackle — in each of the four games in which he has played this season.

Latest On Steelers’ Battles At OT

Last weekend, we noted how the Steelers seemed to be prepping first-round rookie offensive tackle Broderick Jones for a starting role in training camp. Now, after the team’s first preseason game of 2023, it seems Jones has some ground to make up on the incumbent starters from last season.

Pittsburgh opened camp not only with Jones at left tackle in place of Dan Moore, who started at the position all last season, but also with Moore in the place of Chukwuma Okorafor at right tackle. Not only did it seem that Jones was set to start as a rookie, it appeared that he was about to push both of the prior year starters out of their positions.

Mark Kaboly of The Athletic was not having it. Kaboly delivered an extremely honest and realistic take after attending Steelers’ practice last Sunday. What he saw did not have him feeling confident about Jones lining up against Nick Bosa in Week 1, when the 49ers open the season in Pittsburgh. Kaboly gave the rookie some credit; the young man is a physical specimen playing at one of “the most unnatural” positions on offense.

It’s never a given that a rookie can come in and start during their first season, but the Steelers traded up in the first round to select an offensive tackle for the first time in 25 years. It would seem like a disappointment for Jones not to develop into a starter to open his rookie year, but it’s only important that he develops into a starter eventually. The preseason will be an important time to get Jones acclimated to the speed of the game at the NFL level, but rushing Jones into starting action could be detrimental to the team and Jones’s development.

Right now, Kaboly asserts that Moore, the incumbent starter on the blindside, currently looks better than Jones. He certainly should considering he has 34 NFL starts on his resume. Jones is still learning the ins and outs of playing one of the most challenging positions in the NFL. Moore’s got the experience, as does Okorafor, who’s started 52 games over his first five years in the league.

To start the preseason tonight, the Steelers trotted Moore and Okorafor out in their starting positions from last season on the first series of the game. The rest of the contest saw Jones getting his feet wet against NFL competition as the team’s left tackle. That sequence of events seems to support Kaboly’s assertion. It seems the Steelers feel better about Moore and Okorafor’s abilities to start right now, while Jones still needs a bit of seasoning.

Jones delivered a mixed bag in his first NFL action. For much of the appearance, he impressed against a second-team Buccaneers defense, eventually showing inconsistencies as the game wore him down. The results don’t matter too much, though, for now. It was just important for Jones to get out there and start getting comfortable at the position. Despite not starting his rookie year on the first team, his draft stock makes him the de facto tackle of the future in Pittsburgh.

With Jones expected to take over eventually, that makes this season crucial for Moore and Okorafor. Both linemen are under contact through the 2024 season and would be likely extension candidates in the coming offseason. According to another Kaboly take, though, Jones’s presumed place atop future depth charts makes it likely that only one of Moore or Okorafor will be chosen to extend their tenure in Pittsburgh. It will likely be a combination of who performs better this season and who fits best across from Jones that will decide the team’s other tackle of the future.

For now, though, it appears Moore and Okorafor will continue their stints as starters on the Steelers’ offensive line. It’s too early to rule Jones out to open the season as a starter, but it’s seeming more and more likely that he’ll be coming off the bench to start the year and will need to continue working to earn a starting role.

AFC North Rumors: Browns, Steelers, Gordon

This offseason, the Browns gave offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt the added responsibility of quarterbacks coach. According to Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com, the move was part of a concerted effort to give quarterback Deshaun Watson everything he may need in order to succeed.

The team went out this offseason and secured receiving reinforcements for the veteran passer. This offseason, the team added two speedsters of varying vintage. The younger Elijah Moore comes over from the Jets in a trade as he tries to find his footing in the NFL. He’ll have an established veteran to learn from in Marquise Goodwin, whom the team signed back in March. They also added tight end Jordan Akins in free agency and used their top draft pick on Tennessee receiver Cedric Tillman in the third round.

Lastly, they gave Van Pelt the added title, a move that Watson reportedly endorsed heavily. Van Pelt has coached quarterbacks before for the Bills, Buccaneers, Packers, and Bengals, so the move isn’t completely out of left field. But the promotion of such an important coaching position shows just how far Cleveland will go to keep Watson happy.

Here are a few other rumors from around the AFC North:

  • It’s no surprise that the Steelers plan to start this year’s first-round pick, Broderick Jones, as a rookie. The surprise is that, in their efforts to start the tackle out of Georgia, they are resorting to shuffling around their offensive line configuration. Last year, Chukwuma Okorafor started every game at right tackle for Pittsburgh, while Dan Moore covered every game on the blindside for the Steelers. According to ESPN’s Brooke Pryor, the Steelers opened up the first team period of camp this week with Jones at left tackle, pushing Moore over to the right side of the line. Neither Moore nor Okorafor were necessarily stellar at their positions last year, hence the drafting of a tackle in the first round, but to see Pittsburgh push Moore out of position to make room for Jones shows just how much they want Jones to be in a position to succeed. Keeping Moore in the lineup shows that the Steelers are more concerned with starting the best tackles than keeping their tackles specialized on either side of the line.
  • The Ravens added some veteran running back depth last month in Melvin Gordon on a deal reportedly worth up to $3.1MM. Jamison Hensley of ESPN was able to provide us a few more details on the deal, disclosing that the contract has a base salary of $1.17MM with no reported guarantees. The remaining $1.94MM to get to the potential ceiling of the deal comes from undisclosed incentives that are not likely to be earned, meaning they won’t count against the team’s salary cap this year. If Gordon does, in fact, earn the full value of the contract, the $1.94MM will be counted against the 2024 salary cap.

Steelers Sign Round 1 T Broderick Jones

The Steelers are now down to one unsigned draft choice. Their first-round pick, tackle Broderick Jones, agreed to terms on his four-year rookie contract Friday.

Georgia’s left tackle starter last season, Jones is now under contract through 2026. By May of that year, the Steelers can decide to pick up his fifth-year option and push the deal through 2027. For now, Jones is early in his developmental stages. While he comes to Pittsburgh expected to take over at left tackle, the ascent is not guaranteed to happen before Week 1.

[RELATED: Steelers Sign Round 2 DT Keeanu Benton]

Although Jones entered the draft pool as one of this year’s top prospects, he spent one season as a primary college starter. Granted, it was for a program that won a second straight national championship. But Jones resided as a backup during his freshman and sophomore seasons. Following eventual Chargers sixth-round pick Jamaree Salyer‘s NFL entrance in 2022, Jones took over at left tackle for the Bulldogs. He started all 15 games on Stetson Bennett‘s blind side, gliding to first-team All-SEC acclaim and setting himself up as a higher-regarded prospect than Salyer.

ESPN’s Scouts Inc. graded Jones as the No. 3 tackle available and 13th-best overall prospect. After the Bears chose Tennessee’s Darnell Wright at No. 10, the Titans went with Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski. Following two non-O-line choices at Nos. 12 and 13, the Steelers swooped in with a three-spot move up the board. Steelers decision-makers have confirmed they believed the Jets were preparing to draft Jones at No. 15, leading to the trade talks with the Patriots, who enjoyed the ancillary benefit of denying the Jets a first-round-caliber tackle. While the Patriots also have questions at tackle, they preferred Oregon cornerback Christian Gonzalez.

Jones will attempt to wrest the tackle job from two-year incumbent Dan Moore, a 2021 third-round pick. The Steelers have received unspectacular tackle play from Moore and Chukwuma Okorafor, leading to the team’s first Round 1 tackle investment since 1996. But Moore has thus far held his own against the high-end prospect. This matter will not be settled until pads come on, and Jones is ticketed to be Pittsburgh’s long-term answer on Kenny Pickett‘s blind side. For now, however, the 14th overall pick is not a lock to begin the season as a starter.

With Benton signing earlier today, only No. 32 overall pick Joey Porter Jr. remains unsigned from Pittsburgh’s 2023 class.

Steelers LT Dan Moore In Line To Retain Starting Role?

An upgrade at offensive tackle was widely seen as a top draft priority for the Steelers this year, so it came as no surprise when they used their first-round selection (following a trade up the board) on Broderick Jones. That decision came with the expectation of a change on the blindside immediately taking place, but spring practices suggested otherwise.

However, incumbent Dan Moore has taken all of Pittsburgh’s first-team snaps so far this offseason, as noted by The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly (subscription required). Moore has started all 33 of his regular season appearances in two years with the Steelers since joining the team as a fourth-round pick. His level of play over that span has drawn underwhelming reviews from PFF along with plenty of criticism. However, the team’s coaching staff has been impressed dating back to the 2022 campaign.

“If you watched him from midseason last year to the end of the season, he’s improved as much as anybody I have ever been around,” offensive line coach Pat Meyer said while evaluating Moore, 24. “To me, he’s going to be lights out.”

The Texas A&M alum did take a step forward in terms of PFF ratings in 2022 compared to his rookie season, though his overall grade (62.4) leaves plenty to be desired. Moore was charged with seven sacks allowed last season, as was the case in 2021. That may provide Jones a window of opportunity to showcase his pass protection in training camp, but one of the downsides to his pre-draft evaluation was his lack of playing experience at Georgia.

As a result, Kaboly adds that the eventual transition from Moore to Jones at left tackle may not take place in 2023, or at least by the beginning of the campaign. Interestingly, the former has also spent time practicing as a right tackle, the spot he is likeliest to occupy once the latter becomes a first-teamer. The RT position currently belongs to Chukwuma Okoraforas it has since 2020. Moore could very well find himself competing for the starting spot on that side, though the point at which that happens may be delayed relative to early expectations.

Latest On Patriots’ First-Round Trade Talks: Commanders, CBs, Jones, Jets, Steelers

The Patriots’ decision to trade their first-round pick (No. 14 overall) to the Steelers produced some fallout, with the Jets believed to have been targeting Broderick Jones at No. 15. The Commanders factor into this interesting decision as well, having also discussed a trade-up with the Pats.

Washington GM Martin Mayhew spoke with Patriots scouting director Eliot Wolf during the run-up to New England’s No. 14 selection. The terms discussed (via a video showing Commanders draft-night proceedings; h/t MassLive.com’s Mark Daniels) point to Washington not wanting to give up its third-round pick (No. 97) in a deal to climb two spots.

Mayhew indicated the team might be willing to send its fourth-rounder (No. 118) to the Patriots for No. 14, and a second phone conversation revealed the Pats were willing to throw in a sixth-rounder to acquire the Commanders’ third. But after the Packers chose Lukas Van Ness at No. 13, the Commanders stood down. Ron Rivera and Commanders exec Marty Hurney referenced the likelihood of either Emmanuel Forbes or Christian Gonzalez remaining on the board at No. 16 as a reason not to complete a trade with the Pats. As it turned out, both Forbes and Gonzalez were available.

Forbes, who returned six interceptions for touchdowns during a prolific career at Mississippi State, did not end up being docked for his size (6-foot, 166). Despite ESPN’s Scouts Inc. slotting Gonzalez as this draft’s eighth-best prospect and ranking Forbes 21st, Washington preferred the smaller player to the Oregon prospect. The Pats chose Gonzalez at No. 17.

The Commanders’ decision not to complete a trade to ensure they ended up with Forbes led to the Patriots sending their pick to the Steelers, who took Jones. The Pats ended up with a fourth-round pick (No. 120) two spots below the one they may well have been able to obtain from the Commanders, but the much-rumored bonus of denying the Jets a first-round tackle likely sweetened the deal for Bill Belichick and Co.

I’m not going to delve into the relationship between New England and the Jets; let’s just say I’m glad we found a partner,” Mike Tomlin said during a Rich Eisen Show appearance (video link). “I’ll put it this way: there wasn’t a lot of hesitation on New England’s end.”

Both Tomlin and GM Omar Khan confirmed the view inside the Steelers’ war room pointed to a Jets plan to take Jones. While the Jets have denied indicated they were comfortable with Will McDonald at No. 13 — their draft slot before the Aaron Rodgers trade — or 15, the belief around the league was a Jets preference for Jones. The Steelers are expected to give Jones a shot to unseat two-year left tackle incumbent Dan Moore.

We were speculating there. We knew with the acquisition of Aaron Rodgers and so forth, [the Jets] might be fishing in those waters,” Tomlin said. “And so we did what we thought we needed to do to get the player and the position that we coveted. … There was a run on the position, starting with, I think [Bears selection] Darnell Wright at about 10 where they were coming off pretty clean. We just had that as a position of priority and we had Broderick as an individual of priority.”

The Commanders chose corners in Rounds 1 and 2, selecting Illinois’ Jartavius Martin at No. 47. The team moved on from a William Jackson miscalculation last season and will expect Forbes and Martin to make significant impacts alongside Kendall Fuller and Benjamin St-Juste. Despite Fuller’s past as a slot corner, the Commanders are planning to leave him on the outside in their zone-based system, John Keim of ESPN.com tweets. Ron Rivera said OTAs have featured Forbes and St-Juste being used both inside and outside. Rivera noted the team liked what St-Juste, a 2021 third-rounder, brought as a slot defender last season.

As for the Patriots, Gonzalez marks the first pure corner Belichick has chosen in Round 1 since he took the reins in 2000. The team expected the Commanders to choose Forbes, leaving them Gonzalez, whom the Pats — despite their three-spot trade-down maneuver — universally held in high regard.

Teams have to wait a little bit here in the first round before they get their picks in. We didn’t know, but we had a pretty good feeling as to how Washington was going to play it out,” Pats player personnel director Mike Groh said (via Daniels). “So that sped things along for us. Again, it’s nice when you’ve got a consensus on a player. So from the coaching staff, to the scouts, we’re fairly unified grade wise on Christian. That just sped the process along.”

Jets, Steelers Address First-Round Decisions

While the past two weeks have brought one of the more notable stretches of positive Jets publicity in recent NFL history, their Aaron Rodgers-driven momentum has experienced a speedbump. The pick-swap component of the Rodgers trade is widely believed to have cost the Jets the offensive lineman they coveted.

Robert Saleh attempted to provide a counterstrike against the notion the Steelers’ three-spot trade-up — for Georgia tackle Broderick Jones — cost the Jets their preferred pick. Part of the Rodgers trade involved the Jets swapping first-round picks with the Packers, dropping from No. 13 to No. 15, and the Steelers’ trade-up maneuver ensured the draft’s top tackles were gone by the time the Jets’ pick arrived. Gang Green took edge rusher Will McDonald at No. 15.

The difference between 13 and 15 and the way everything shook out made no difference to us,” Saleh said during an appearance on the Rich Eisen Show (video link). … We’re always going to take the best player available when it presents itself. I think what surprised everybody is that you could make an argument the best available wasn’t a need. It doesn’t change what you do, but for the last two years, everybody we drafted seemed to be a need.”

The Jets added McDonald to an edge group that includes Carl Lawson, 2022 first-round pick Jermaine Johnson and versatile veteran John Franklin-Myers. Lawson’s contract expires after this season, potentially positioning the Jets to use Johnson and McDonald as their longer-term edge starters. For 2023, however, McDonald may not be a starter.

Pittsburgh did view New York as eyeing Jones at No. 15, and GM Omar Khan said the team was leery about other teams moving ahead of its No. 17 draft slot for Jones. Assistant Steelers GM Andy Weidl worked with Jets GM Joe Douglas with the Ravens and Eagles, and Khan mentioned pro personnel director Sheldon White‘s contributions when it came time for Steelers brass to determine which teams were threats for Jones.

No, no inside information, but we have Sheldon White, who’s our director of pro, does a really good job of preparing us leading into the draft as to what every team-specific needs are and what he believes their priorities are,” Khan said, via Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio. “And it wasn’t just the Jets, but there were teams behind us that we had the same concern that they might come up and had a need for an offensive tackle that might come up and trade up to get Broderick.

“Again, when the opportunity was there, we just didn’t want to take the chance of waiting to see if he was there or not. But we had no inside info that’s who the Jets were gonna take. It’s just a hunch.”

It required only a fourth-round pick for the Steelers to move up three spots, via the Patriots, in Round 1. It took the Eagles a fourth to move up one spot in the first round (for Jalen Carter), and the Bills a fourth to climb two positions (for Dalton Kincaid). Some have labeled the Patriots as being eager to allow a team to leapfrog the Jets for Jones — who received high marks from Gang Green during his “30” visit. Khan said he did not discuss the Jets component during trade talks with the Patriots.

The Steelers, who had made just one first-round trade-up (for Devin Bush, in 2019) over the past 15 drafts, added Jones to likely replace two-year starter Dan Moore at left tackle. Georgia’s 2022 left-side starter, via The Athletic’s Mike DeFabo, is more likely to supplant Moore than right tackle Chukwuma Okorafor, who may be a better bet to remain a starter once Jones is up to speed (subscription required). Pro Football Focus rated Moore and Okorafor outside the top 50 at tackle last season. Okorafor has operated as Pittsburgh’s starting right tackle for the past three seasons.

Jets Targeted T Broderick Jones; Latest On Patriots’ Trade Process

The Jets exited draft week with one of the biggest quarterback upgrades in many years, but they paid far more than it took to execute a similar transaction 15 years ago. It cost the Jets a conditional third-round pick to acquire Brett Favre‘s rights in 2008; the Aaron Rodgers trade cost New York a second-rounder, a likely 2024 first and a first-round pick swap this year. The last component here became key to start this draft.

Connected to tackles for weeks leading up to the draft, the Jets saw three of this year’s top four options — Paris Johnson, Darnell Wright, Peter Skoronski — go off the board between Nos. 6-11. With Broderick Jones still available at No. 14, the Steelers traded up one spot in front of the Jets — who moved from No. 13 to 15 in the Rodgers trade — to obtain the former Georgia blocker. This maneuver generated some attention in the days since.

Some around the league believe the Patriots made an effort to help ensure the Jets did not land the tackle they coveted at No. 15, with Jason La Canfora of the Washington Post noting select staffers viewed the Jets’ choice of Iowa State edge rusher Will McDonald as a bit of a panic move. The Jets were reported to have given Jones positive feedback on their “30” visit with the tackle, and La Canfora adds the team was targeting him at No. 15. Several GMs also said (via NBC Sports’ Peter King) they believed the Jets were planning to select Jones at No. 13, but the Rodgers trade gave the Packers that pick (which became Iowa defensive lineman Lukas Van Ness).

The Patriots sold the 14th pick to the Steelers, moving down three spots and picking up a fourth-round pick (No. 120) to do so. One GM whose team was monitoring a potential trade-up move with the Pats told La Canfora that Pittsburgh should have needed to fork over a third-rounder to move from 17 to 14 to land its potential long-term left tackle. The Giants gave up more than that — a fourth and a seventh — to move up from No. 25 to No. 24 later Thursday night. Rival execs viewed the Pats as giving the Steelers a friendly route to leapfrog the Jets, given the AFC East rivalry in play and Bill Belichick‘s checkered history (the 2000 hiring snafu and the 2007 Spygate whistle-blowing incident) with the organization.

Scouts Inc. rated McDonald 25th on its big board. Even if this was a perceived reach, far worse stretches have occurred in modern draft history. The undersized pass rusher joins a Jets team rostering Carl Lawson, Jermaine Johnson and John Franklin-Myers. Lawson’s contract expires after this season. At tackle, the Jets face more uncertainty.

Left tackle Duane Brown‘s two-year contract runs through 2023, but the veteran will turn 38 this year and is coming off surgery. The team declined Mekhi Becton‘s fifth-year option, and the once-promising left tackle has played one game over the past two seasons. Becton has lost more than 40 pounds and is on track to compete for the right tackle job again in training camp, but he cannot exactly be relied upon to anchor that spot. The team signed ex-Nathaniel Hackett Broncos and Packers charge Billy Turner on Monday; Turner missed nine games last season. Jones would have offered Gang Green a high-ceiling option, and if the one-year Georgia starter develops in Pittsburgh, the Jets’ 2023 draft plan will encounter more scrutiny.

The Patriots ended up with Oregon cornerback Christian Gonzalez at No. 17. Scouts Inc.’s No. 8 overall prospect, Gonzalez was not expected to fall that far. It is worth wondering what the Patriots’ tackle plan will be, seeing as Trent Brown is an annual injury risk and UFA pickup Riley Reiff is 34 and did not begin last season as the Bears’ right-side starter. But the Pats passed on Jones and loaded up on interior O-linemen on Day 3.

Belichick’s well-earned reputation for trading down aside, Pats director of player personnel Matt Groh said (via ESPN’s Mike Reiss) a move up was in play. The team placed Gonzalez in a cluster of players with similar value, per SI.com’s Albert Breer, who adds second-round Pats pick Keion White was in that cluster. The Pats not viewing the Jets as likely to draft a corner contributed to the team’s decision to resume talks about trading down with the Steelers, Breer adds. Belichick hired ex-Steelers O-line coach Adrian Klemm to the same position. Klemm spent last season at Oregon, helping with Gonzalez intel. The Pats had not drafted a pure corner in Round 1 during Belichick’s previous 23 years at the helm.

The Pats attempted to move back into Round 1 later Thursday night, with Reiss indicating the team engaged multiple clubs in those talks. New England’s actual trade, depending on who you believe, may have left the Jets scrambling. Jones’ Pittsburgh path could make for an interesting “what if?” for the Jets, who may need to make another tackle investment as Rodgers readies for his New York debut.

Steelers Trade Up For OT Broderick Jones

In traditional Patriots fashion, the team is moving back. The Steelers have acquired the No. 14 pick from New England. The Patriots will be acquiring No. 17 and No. 120, per ESPN’s Field Yates (on Twitter).

The Steelers are using their new selection on Georgia offensive tackle Broderick Jones. After Mike Tomlin said he was comfortable with his two-year starting tackle tandemDan MooreChukwuma Okorafor — the Steelers trading up for Jones points to a change at one of these positions.

This marks just the third Steelers first-round trade-up in the past 20 drafts. The team had previously moved up for Santonio Holmes and Devin Bush in that span, but a new GM (Omar Khan) is running the show now. The longtime Kevin Colbert lieutenant decided to pull the trigger and help protect 2022 first-rounder Kenny Pickett.

A report earlier this week connected the Steelers to a potential O-line trade-up, and unlike pre-draft smokescreens perpetrated by the Texans and Colts, Pittsburgh followed through on the effort. Jones, who met with the Steelers on a pre-draft visit, has just one full season as a starter under his belt. He succeeded Chargers 2022 draftee Jamaree Salyer as the Bulldogs’ left tackle and ended up going much higher in the draft; Salyer went to Los Angeles in Round 6 last year.

The Steelers have used Moore, a 2021 third-round pick, as their left tackle over the past two seasons. Pro Football Focus rated neither Moore nor Okorafor as a top-50 tackle last season. Given the investment the Steelers made in Pickett, it is understandable Khan and Co. made this effort to secure a potentially significant upgrade. This marks the first Steelers first-round O-lineman investment since All-Pro guard David DeCastro in 2012 and the first time the franchise has chosen a first-round tackle since 1996.

Latest On Jets’ First-Round Plans, Corey Davis’ Future With Team

The Jets are more likely than not to give up their 2024 first-round pick for Aaron Rodgers, considering the future Hall of Famer has played at least 65% of the Packers’ offensive snaps in 13 of the past 15 seasons. That will increase the pressure on the organization to nail its first-round pick this year.

Moving down from No. 13 to No. 15 via the Rodgers swap, the Jets are being connected to both tackles and a wide receiver. The organization has done considerable homework on Jaxon Smith-Njigba, per Matt Miller of ESPN.com, though he also views the Ohio State prospect as a candidate to go in the Jets’ old draft slot. A report this week indicated the Packers — they of zero first-round receiver picks since Javon Walker in 2002 — are believed to be interested in Smith-Njigba.

Taking a receiver so early would be a risky move for a team with a glaring tackle need, but the Jets obviously found a gem in former Smith-Njigba teammate Garrett Wilson at No. 10 last year. That move came after the Jets were connected to just about every potentially available wideout via trade. Smith-Njigba profiles as a slot weapon, and the Jets have moved on from both Elijah Moore and Braxton Berrios this offseason. JSN has taken some heat for seeing an early-season hamstring injury essentially end his junior year, but a standout sophomore season — during which he compiled 1,606 yards — far more than Wilson or Chris Olave in 2021 — has him as a strong option to be the first receiver taken in this draft.

The Jets signed Allen Lazard and Mecole Hardman, but they also chased Odell Beckham Jr. The team still could be readying to add Randall Cobb, but doing so after drafting a receiver at No. 15 might not make much sense — Rodgers’ wish list notwithstanding. Sitting as the potential odd man out, Corey Davis also remains on Gang Green’s roster. The Jets were expected to cut Davis if they signed Beckham, but with the Ravens winning that derby, Davis (and a $10.5MM base salary) linger. His Jets fate may depend on how the team proceeds in the early rounds.

Corey is selfless; Corey is an unbelievable worker; he’s a great professional for some of our young guys to look up to and model their approach, their work ethic to this game,” Jets GM Joe Douglas said this week. “And look, we all know that there is a business aspect to football, but Corey is a valued member of this team and this franchise.”

Rodgers famously spent most of his Packers career without a first-round wideout to target. The Jets adding another to the equation would likely mean a Davis exit. The team would save $10.5MM by releasing the former top-five pick at any point this offseason.

Prior to the Rodgers trade, ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini offered a Broderick Jones connection (Twitter link). The Jets hosted the former Georgia left tackle, and ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler adds the team gave the one-year Bulldogs starter positive feedback during that meeting. Dropping to No. 15 opens the door to the Patriots, who hold the No. 14 pick and have a tackle need, taking a potential Jets target. The Pats also hosted Jones on a pre-draft visit. Before the Jets parted with the 13th pick, NBC Sports’ Peter King had them drafting Jones as well. SI.com’s Albert Breer sends Smith-Njigba to the Jets.

It will be interesting to see if the Jets’ Rodgers trade terms lead to Jones being out of reach. If Jones is off the board, Tennessee’s Darnell Wright could become a Jets consideration. Wright has experience at both left and right tackle, having made 27 starts on the right side and 13 at the more glamorous spot. The Jets have Duane Brown going into his age-38 season and Mekhi Becton a true wild card, given his knee trouble. Scouts Inc. rates Wright 18th overall, slotting the ex-Volunteers starter as this draft’s fourth-best O-lineman.

Paris Johnson and Peter Skoronski figure to be off the board by the time the Jets’ pick arrives. The Jets drafting an O-lineman in Round 1 would make three such investments in four years for Douglas, who took Becton in 2020 and Alijah Vera-Tucker in 2021.