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Pittsburgh Steelers select Washington OL Troy Fautanu with the 20th overall pick. Grade: A+

The Steelers had a lot of obvious needs along their offensive line, and I didn’t expect them to be able to avail themselves of a talent like Troy Fautanu with the 20th overall pick. A lot of people see Fautanu moving inside, but I think he’s a credible tackle at the NFL level. He reminds me of Packers star David Bakhtiari with his tough, technical, resourceful playing style that works outside despite a lack of ideal measurables. 

The 2023 Washington Huskies had one of the most explosive offenses in the NCAA, both run and pass, and while most of the credit goes to the skill position players, you’re not going to get a lot of those big plays happening if the guys up front aren’t doing their jobs.

So, it’s time to take a closer look at Washington left tackle Troy Fautanu, who should be a first-round pick on April 25, and might reach that status at either tackle or guard. A four-star recruit out of Liberty High School in Henderson, Nevada, Troy-Toese “Troy” Fautanu chose Washington over California, Duke , Notre Dame, Oregon, USC, UCLA, and Utah.

Why guard? Well, it comes up in Fautanu’s case because his height of 6′ 3¾” is third-percentile for the tackle position, and while his wingspan and arm length are more in the box for the position, that will have some NFL personnel people wondering. And Fautanu’s seek-and-destroy playing personality may add to it.

No matter where he plays in the NFL, Fautanu’s pass protection — he allowed two sacks and 23 total pressures last season on 623 pass-blocking snaps for the ultimate deep passing game — will hold up, and his run-blocking is just fun to watch.

PLUSES

– Brings a nasty mentality to the position; he’s technically sound, but he really wants to kick your ass and dominate the rep. More pancakes than an IHOP on Sunday morning.

– Quick, nimble feet off the snap allow him to set his body to the rusher and to adjust against stunts and games.

– Hand use is versatile and violent; he had a rep against Texas where he just slapped two pass-rushers down on an E/T stunt – Ethan Burke and T’Vondre Sweat. Those guys couldn’t keep their hands up.

– Great blocker on screens and other second-level plays; he squares up quickly and accurately, and he’s looking to demolish in the open field.

– Has no issue extending blocks for a longer period of time because he’ll latch on and mirror well. That’s pretty important when your quarterback has 117 attempts of 20 or more air yards in a single season.

– Agile enough to cross a defender’s face and seal the edge in the run game.

MINUSES

– Can be beaten by inside counters once he’s set in his stance.

– Smaller hands (9 ½ inches; 13th percentile for the position) show up when he’s trying to maintain protection around the arc or to either side of his body; he’ll allow some leakage there.

– Could stand to be a bit more exact when firing out; he’s better in enclosed space than when he’s forced to react to quicker pass-rushers. Sometimes, he’ll just whiff when he’s too aggressive.

– Will get run over from time to time when he’s too upright off the snap.

I can see the sense in perhaps making Fautanu a guard at the next level, but if he wants to play tackle, he’s got the attributes to do it, especially in a power-based offense with multiple blocking schemes in the run game.

Based on my personal preferences, I’d try to kick him inside, because I think he could be an All-Pro move guard, as opposed to a pretty good-to-really good tackle. It will be interesting to see how that process takes place with Fautanu’s NFL team.

Story originally appeared on Touchdown Wire