When the Steelers drafted Broderick Jones in the first round of this year's NFL Draft, they were hoping for a player that would help open up an improved ground offense at the time and provide high-level protection to quarterback Kenny Pickett at the same time.
In their Week 5 win over the Baltimore Ravens this past Sunday, Jones achieved both of these things, allowing zero pressures with a 97.6 run-block win rate on 66 snaps in his first career start.
Aside from the noticeable improvement in their run offense during the latter portions of the game, the biggest difference was Pickett's comfort level in the pocket, which gave him ample time to go through his progression reads. From watching Jones on tape, what stood out was the physicality he displayed on almost every snap. It was a welcome sight for an offense line that has been missing this aspect for most of the season.
Physically Imposing In Pass Protection
Baltimore Ravens defensive lineman Jadeveon Clowney had the misfortune of going up against Jones for much of the contest and found out quickly how overwhelmingly physical he can be.
In this sequence early in the second quarter, Clowney is seen as the right edge rusher in 5-technique. As the ball is snapped, Clowney attempts an assortment of moves and counters but is unsuccessful. Jones would eventually get him to the ground, giving Pickett more than enough time to complete his pass to fullback/tight end Connor Heyward for the first down.
In focusing on Jones, there are several aspects that led to winning this one-on-one battle:
Quick feel and lateral movement - His athleticism and fluidity shined in this sequence
Excellent balance - He never once leaned in or backwards.
Ideal pad level - Clowney tends to play a little high and Jones took advantage of that.
Active hands - Instrumental in neutralizing Clowney's counters
Climbing The Second Level
Midway through the third quarter, running back Jaylen Warren put together an incredible series of runs that put the Steelers near the Ravens goalline. On this occasion, we will be focusing on the third one.
In this sequence, the Steelers are showing an unbalanced line with two tight ends on the left side. With this formation, it was clear that the intent was for Warren to take either the B-gap or C-gap on the side. When the ball is snapped, watch how quickly Jones reaches the second level and takes out the Ravens linebacker coming towards the gap. This is beautifully executed block gave Warren more than enough room despite having to evade one defender who beat Heyward inside. It is not a coincidence that the Steelers run offense got better during the course of the contest. Jones was a major factor in making this happen.
Overall, there is no denying that Jones makes the offensive line exponentially better. His ability to combine physicality and excellent fundamentals potentially makes him the type of offensive lineman to build around. Regardless of Moore Jr.'s injury status, Jones proved that he was much better suited to taking over the starting role at left tackle going forward.