A year ago Ben Roethlisberger’s utterance of the “R” word left Steelers Nation on pins and needles. Although Roethlisberger confirmed he’d return for 2017, he’d unmasked the elephant in the room.
- Even so, the conclusion here was that it was too early to draft Roethlisberger’s replacement.
The wiser option was to draft players who could help Ben bring home Lombardi Number 7. Fast forward to January 2018: Following another playoff disappointment, Ben Roethlisberger changes his tune and says he wants to play 2-3 more years.
So the calculus on drafting Ben Roethlisberger’s replacement in the 2018 NFL Draft shouldn’t change…. Right? Well, let’s see.
Steelers Quarterback Depth Chart Entering the 2018 NFL Draft – the Starter
At age 36 and after 14 NFL seasons, Ben Roethlisberger finally commands respect as one of the NFL’s premier signal callers.
The days when critics derided Ben as a “game manager” who depended on a strong defense and robust rushing attack to win are over. Neither is Roethlisberger written off as a school yard improviser.
Ironically, this belated recognition arrives despite Ben Roethlisberger’s agonizingly slow start in 2017. Martavis Bryant and Le’Veon Bell also took their time to find their rhythm, but Antonio Brown pulled down some wild throws to make Roethlisberger look better than he had any right to look early on.
- Did Ben Roethlisberger take half a season to get his arm into shape as Steel City Insider’s Jim Wexell suggests?
- Did Randy Fichtner’s move from the booth to the sidelines give Ben the boost he needed?
We’ll never know. But what we do know is that Ben Roethlisberger’s passer rating for the first eight games of 2017 was 82.7, just shy of his career worst 75.1 mark of 2006, but during the final 8 games of 2017 Ben Roethlisberger posted a 105.3 passer rating, the very best of his career.
Steelers Quarterback Depth Chart Entering the 2018 NFL Draft – the Backups
While a certain segment of Steelers Nation will never accept it, Landry Jones has developed into a quality NFL backup quarterback. Landry Jones may have been as lost as he looked in 2013 and 2014,but something clicked for the Oklahoma signal caller in the 2015 preseason when the Steelers gave 3 separate players shots at unseating Jones from the 3rd quarterback slot.
- As fate would have it, an injury to Mike Vick turned out to be a lucky break for the Steelers, as Landry Jones closed two wins against the Cardinals and the Raiders.
Since then Jones has started in a losing effort against the Patriots in 2016 and in season finales against Cleveland in 2016 and 2017. Landry Jones won both contests, including a come from behind win in 2016 and an 85% completed passing effort in 2017.
Behind Landry Jones the Steelers have Joshua Dobbs, whom they took in the 4th round of the 2017 NFL Draft. A rocket scientist, Joshua Dobbs looked about as good as can be expected in preseason and apparently takes his preparation seriously.
Steelers 2018 Quarterback Draft Needs
Some mass psychology professor should study how Steelers fans react to Ben Roethlisberger news.
Last year, many if not most fans remained convinced that 2017 would be Ben Roethlisberger’s last season. Now, suddenly, after Roethlisberger says he plans to play for 2-3 more seasons, most conclude that he’ll do just that and perhaps even a few more.
They also conveniently forget Roethlisberger’s early 2017 struggles and assume that he’ll l continue to play championship caliber football as long as he desires. Let’s hope he does, but Ben Roethlisberger is 36 and all 36 years old NFL players are taking it year-by-year.
- A year ago the smartest thing the Steelers could do was to draft talent to help Ben Roethlisberger win in 2017. T.J. Watt and JuJu Smith-Schuster fit that bill.
And that remains a wise option today. But dynamics differ a bit in 2018. Unlike last year, the 2018 NFL Draft is said offer a good crop of quarterbacks. And Ben Roethlisberger IS a year older. Steelers fans know too well that in 1983 Terry Bradshaw planned to play for 5 more years and Pittsburgh passed on Dan Marino and drafted Gabe Rivera.
By all means, the Steelers focus in the 2018 NFL Draft should on positions other than quarterback.
- But if your quarterback is 36 years old and if a franchise quarterback falls to you, you draft the quarterback.
Therefore the Steelers 2018 quarterback draft need must be considered Moderate.