The first and only Pittsburgh Steelers rookie minicamp is in the books for offensive tackle Broderick Jones. And though he’s only been with the team a few weeks, he already knows what’s ahead for him this offseason.
The Steelers have a tough slate of games to kick off the 2023 season: the San Francisco 49ers, Cleveland Browns and in Vegas versus the Raiders. But before Jones takes on the likes of Nick Bosa, Myles Garrett and Maxx Crosby, he’ll have to contend with two of the NFL’s best pass rushers.
There’s no better way to test your skills before it really counts than going against former Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt and his sidekick Alex Highsmith. Jones eagerly awaits the opportunity and is counting on them to help make him better. “I know those guys are going to push me to make me better so at the end of the day win, lose or draw however it goes you know I’m always ready,” he said during a media scrum on May 14.
Jones will need all the pushing he can get this offseason to face his first challenger. Should he earn the starting nod during training camp, his first pro game will be a challenge until the game slows down for him. Going up against Bosa, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, can be daunting for a newbie, but he’s not sweating it. “49ers, Nick Bosa. It’s something to prepare for, something to look forward to,” he said of going up against the 49ers to open the season. “Put my best foot forward every day working towards that day so you know just trying to get there to that point you know hopefully be the best version of me.”
Broderick Jones Working at Left Tackle in Steelers Camp
While many forecasted that Broderick Jones would supplant Dan Moore Jr. at left tackle leaving Chuks Okorafor to remain on the right, it’s not a given. But that’s where they had him work during rookie minicamp. To Jones, it was merely a formality. He knows he needs to walk before he can run. “I have the mindset of coming in ready to work,” he said when asked if his focus is on winning the role. “I am not looking forward to winning the job right now. My biggest focus is coming in and doing the best I can do. Learning the playbook and being the best version of me.”
Just because he was a first-round pick doesn’t guarantee he’ll start the season either. He may have to earn that role just as Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh’s 20th overall selection, had to in 2022. But the Steelers had Mitch Trubisky, a quality signal-caller, to lead the team. Moore, Pittsburgh’s fourth-round selection in 2021, has struggled out of the gate allowing 14 sacks, 24 quarterback hits and 56 hurries. He’s been beaten by the pass rusher he was responsible for defending 86 times. He also lacks discipline, committing 14 penalties — primarily false start and holding calls.
It’s safe to say that Jones would really have to muck things up in offseason practices to not get the starting nod.