In 2021 and 2022, the Steelers got the players they wanted in round one without moving up. This year, they decided to make the move to get their guy, Georgia tackle Broderick Jones.
They were willing to do it in order to make Jones a Steeler, because they became convinced along the way that Jones already was one.
“We spent a lot of time with Broderick,” Steelers G.M. Omar Khan said in a recent interview with #PFTPM. “We interviewed him at the Combine, we went to his Pro Day, had dinner with him the night before his Pro Day, spent a lot of time with him at his Pro Day, and then we brought him in for one of our 30 visits.
“You know, we just, we just felt like he was a Steeler. He was just a very impressive young man and obviously he’s a good player and the future is bright for him. He hasn’t played a ton of football and you know there’s a lot of upside there. But going through the process, he was a player that we had targeted, and the way the board was coming down, we knew there was a chance he’d still be there, but once we got the opportunity to get the 14 [pick], you know it was a no-brainer for us.”
So what was it that made Khan think Jones is a Steeler?
“When you’re a part of this organization, people ask me this all the time like, ‘What does it mean to be a Steeler?'” Khan said. “When you’re a part of this organization, you just sort of know, when you’ve been here long enough. Like there’s, I’d give you 1,000 characteristics, but you just sort of know, just being around Broderick and Keanu Benton, Nick Herbig, Darnell Washington. When you’re around it, you just know that these guys are going to fit into our culture and they’re going to make us better and they’re Steelers, going to be impactful in the community. You just know and that’s the best way I can answer it. I could give you a million characteristics, we just know.”
To get Jones, they had to know when to trade up from No. 17 to No. 14.
“We had a couple of players that we targeted,” Khan said. “Broderick was in that group. As the draft was going you know, as I mentioned earlier, it was just we didn’t want to risk him not being there. We felt like he’s going to help us not only in the short term, but long term. We worked the phones, and the opportunity was there for us to trade up and get him and you know we had to give up a fourth. You don’t like to give up your draft picks if you don’t have to, especially when you don’t have a lot of them in a given year. It was just an opportunity. The opportunity was there, and you know, we were convinced that we wanted to make Broderick a Steeler.”
Khan said the Steelers had no inside information that the Jets would target Jones at No. 15, but that they rely on their own internal procedures to estimate the needs of other teams.
“No, no inside information, but we have Sheldon White, who’s our director of pro [personnel]. 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. 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.”
Some have suggested, on that same sort of hunch, the Patriots coach Bill Belichick gladly took only a fourth-round pick in order to keep the Jets from getting the player they wanted. Khan doesn’t know whether that was part of Belichick’s motivation.
“Those conversations did not happen with us,” Khan said. “I think when these trades happen, we make an offer and say, ‘This is our best offer’ and if it works, great, and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. That’s what we were comfortable giving up was a fourth-round pick. Fortunately for us, it worked out for us and the Patriots.”
And it quite possibly didn’t work out for the Jets. Which makes it even better for the Patriots. But still best of all for the Steelers, who made the move to get the player they wanted.