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FILM ROOM: Why Troy Fautanu is the upgrade the Steelers have been looking for at tackle

Every team goes into a draft preparing for doomsday scenarios in which all of their top prospects have already been taken. In almost every way, the Steelers enjoyed the exact opposite of that Thursday night, with zero cornerbacks or centers having been selected by Pick 20. Also there: Washington OL Troy Fautanu, who went a little below his 18.5 expected draft position (courtesy Grinding the Mocks).

Pittsburgh made Fautanu its initial selection in its 2024 crop, instantly upgrading its offensive line and marking consecutive seasons opting for OL in the first round. Beyond his existing Steelers fandom — search some of his old tweets to see how much he really bleeds black and gold — Fautanu makes loads of sense for Pittsburgh as a foundational piece of its offensive line and a likely instant starter. As his tape indicates, he’ll be almost a Day 1-fortification over Dan Moore Jr., who posted the worst pass-blocking grade (42.1) among tackles with 700+ snaps last year.

The first eye-popping trait with Fautanu is how smooth he is in space. Fautanu is a true weapon for an offensive coordinator with how one can scheme blocks that enable him to come across the formation or work in the open field, combining his fluid movements with power packed.

This lead block out of C/T Counter is pretty much absolute perfection by Fautanu. He wastes no steps in getting across the formation, staying parallel to the line of scrimmage. From there, he finds his target, lowers his shoulder and frees considerable space for the RB.

Here, Fautanu moves to his left on a pin and pull, gets wide to the DB (his assignment), sets his feet and just shows no mercy.

One more for good measure — because I could really watch him do this all day. Another C/T Counter, but this time, Fautanu smashes the strongside edge rusher, knocking him to one knee.

In a similar vein, Fautanu is lethal on screens, whether for receivers or running backs. His top traits — athleticism (9.62 RAS), power in his hands and nastiness — are all underscored on such plays.

Consider these two examples, which had me laughing in admiration.


Another facet which makes Fautanu advanced is his hands. It’s no coincidence why Pittsburgh coveted Fautanu: he’s frequently able to utilize independent hands, something which OL coach Pat Meyer considers a tenet of offensive line play.

A go-to for Fautanu is flashing his outside hand to disrupt a defender’s initial plan, then responding with a mean punch. He does so here against Michigan.

Fautanu seems steady and deliberate in handling whatever pass rush moves he encounters, attacking snaps with intentionality and almost a preconceived plan. On top of that, he resets incredibly well throughout a rep. Below are some terrific examples of Fautanu wielding his mitts.

Swiping away hands to nullify a swipe:

Knocking away rip attempts:

Changing attack angles after meeting the defender high:

A snatch-and-trap that’s already in his bag:

And, finally, an encapsulation of trying to win one-on-one against the relentless Fautanu:

I alluded to Fautanu’s punch before, but it certainly deserves its own section. Not only is it highly effective, but also leverages it early in reps. He’s not afraid to be the first one to hit whoever’s across from him.

Another asset of Fautanu’s is his patience during a snap. Even if he surrenders a bit of space, Fautanu understands the impact of knocking a defender wide, setting deeper if he needs to.

Moreover, Fautanu handles stunts, twists and loops at a high level, consistently locking on to his second man — and sometimes chipping in on both rushers.


In both pass pro and run blocking, Fautanu has tremendously strong grip; it’s rare to see someone knock his hands off when he latches on.

Another major asset in the run game is Fautanu’s ability to drive and climb to the second level. When he gets his hands on linebackers, lanes are simply cleared for whoever’s toting the rock.

This clip of Fautanu reaching to double the 3T and then getting a piece of the Will linebacker was one of the more impressive I saw from him.

In many ways, Fautanu is an OL guru’s dream because of these two attributes: looking for work and finishing with regularity. Fautanu appears as if he genuinely loves finding someone on which to lay the boom, racking up slabs like a barbeque joint.


The Nevada native isn’t only a fan of slabs, though: he’s also a major pancake fan. If Fautanu’s engaged in a block, his mentality is clear in not stopping until the opponent is on the ground, under his force. He really blocks with mean intentions. Just take a look at what he did in the 2024 National Championship alone, and it’s hard not to fall in love with him.

If you’re looking for why Fautanu fell to Pick 20, his ability to stay grounded on rushes — especially power ones — is probably the biggest reason why. Fautanu gets pushed back a bit more than one would like, which is partially due to his 34 ½-inch arms (67th percentile, per Mockdraftable) and 81 ½-inch wingspan (41st percentile).


Likewise, Fautanu seemed a bit easier to physically move, and even toss around, than one may have anticipated. His weight — 317 pounds — is in the 63rd percentile, but his 6036 height (3rd percentile) is also definitely a factor. As a result, he’ll need to drop and set his anchor a bit better at the next level.

On this rep, Fautanu makes good early contact but gives up ground when a hump move knocks him back.

Oregon’s Brandon Dorlus gave Fautanu some trouble as well, this time with a long arm and rip.

Additionally, Fautanu’s footwork in the run game isn’t always perfect. He doesn’t always marry his hands with his feet and should aim to better entrench the latter — and aim them more at targets — on some plays.


It’s not hard to see why the Steelers became infatuated with a player like Fautanu. His movement skills, power, hands and attitude all mimic that of an All-Pro tackle. On top of that, Fautanu is deft in both pass pro and the run game.

As of now, it seems the plan is to keep Fautanu at tackle — which isn’t a bad idea to start, in part because Pittsburgh has two starting guards in James Daniels and Isaac Seumalo. The question, though, is which side will Fautanu man? He was almost exclusively a LT in college, and with Broderick Jones transitioning to RT during his rookie season, I think it’s best to keep Jones there (even if not his “true” position) rather than to have another newcomer learn on the fly.

Fautanu’s pressure efficiency (97.9) may not seem awfully impressive, but it’s important to contextualize those 23 pressures allowed this year with these two ideas: a) Fautanu never allowed more than 2 pressures in any game this year, and b) his 993 blocking snaps were the fourth-most by any tackle in the country. In other words, that high volume probably explains the numbers a bit better.

The fact that Fautanu isn’t a physical specimen at tackle isn’t ideal, and it can manifest itself in his game — notably on moves such as bull rushes, clubs, long arms and hump moves. Experts like The Athletic’s Dane Brugler slotted Fautanu as his top guard (and 9th overall prospect) in the class because of such height/length concerns, and the Steelers are assuredly wary of that. However, because of a stellar track record at left tackle and the skills to compensate for a smaller frame, I expect Fautanu to get ample opportunity on the outside in the Steel City. In other words, I would most definitely still draft a center later this weekend (or even today).

The bottom line with Fautanu is that, after attempting to go frugal with their offensive line for the last few years, the Steelers are adding blue-chip prospects who are refined and nasty. No matter how you slice it positionally, almost every OL coach would love acquiring someone like Fautanu — and, most importantly, he’s a markedly better player than Moore, who the team couldn’t afford to trot out there any longer.


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