Post Draft State Of The Steelers Quarterbacks
It is time to wrap up the offense today by taking a look at the quarterback position post draft. There are not any surprises to be found here on the Steelers depth chart, so let this serve as more of a recap of where the main three are as they head toward training camp. If you have missed any of the previous positional post draft looks at the roster you can read them at the links provided here: offensive line, defensive line, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends & fullbacks.
Ben Roethlisberger – Roethlisberger says that he is still having minor problems with the ankle he injured against the Cleveland Browns last season as he claims that it is still not fully healed. He has plenty of time still to get it ready by the start of training camp and in the mean time he will focus on learning the new offense and terminology being put into place by new offensive coordinator Todd Haley and help the others on offense learn it is well. The Steelers unquestioned leader received a few gifts during the 2012 NFL draft in the form of David DeCastro, Mike Adams, Chris Rainey and Toney Clemons so he has to be excited about that. DeCastro will be a week one starter and Rainey could possibly contribute sooner than later and give Roethlisberger yet another weapon on offense. Team president Art Rooney II stated after the 2011 season that Roethlisberger needs to tweak his game a bit in an effort to not take as many hits as he has in years past, but you can bet that Roethlisberger will still on occasion do what he does best, and that is to extend plays at times. The Steelers chances of adding a seventh Lombardi Trophy to the case this year all depend on the play of Roethlisberger and he certainly has the ability to get it done with the weapons that he is surrounded by. You can expect that he will have a few “come to Jesus” type moments on the sideline this season with Haley, but that should be expected. How he handles those moments will show his level maturity and his ability to adapt heading into the golden years of his career. He remains one of the top quarterbacks in the league right now even if he needs help putting a shoe on a dinged up foot supported by a bad ankle.
Byron Leftwich – Leftwich was re-signed to a one-year deal just prior to the draft starting. There were rumors that former Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians had interest in bringing him to the Indianapolis Colts to help mentor Andrew Luck, but that never came to fruition. The biggest challenge Leftwich has on his plate this season is to show that he can survive the preseason without getting injured. He broke his arm last year during the preseason against the Atlanta Falcons and in 2010 he suffered a knee injury in the preseason finale against the Carolina Panthers that kept him sidelined for several weeks. The last regular season snap that Leftwich has taken came against the Browns in the week 17 season finale, so he certainly could use some preseason action out of training camp to knock off the rust. Hopefully he never has to see the field in 2012 outside of mop up duty, but he can\’t even do that if he can\’t keep himself in one piece prior to the season beginning. Although it is not a given, he should be able to beat out Charlie Batch for the backup job behind Roethlisberger.
Charlie Batch – Like Leftwich, Batch was also brought back on a one-year deal and he figures to serve as the third string quarterback this year assuming Leftwich stays healthy. Batch started the week 16 game last season against the St. Louis Rams and he played well in that game. He showed he still has a little elusiveness in the pocket as well in that lone start as he ducked under what seemed to be two certain sacks in that game. Father Time has long caught up with his arm, but Batch is as experienced as they come in regard to reading defenses and managing the offense. He generally has made good decisions with the football over the last few seasons in his limited playing time. The biggest role Batch could play in 2012 is being a buffer of sorts between Haley and Roethlisberger, as there are sure to be a few heated moments on the sideline that will need buffering. Batch is a consummate professional, and while the hope is that he never has to take a snap in 2012, the Steelers could do worse for an emergency third string quarterback.
Troy Smith – The former Heisman Trophy winner was signed to a futures contract this past offseason and will attempt to beat out Batch for the number three spot on the depth chart. Smith has a career 51.7 completion ratio and has made just 8 starts since being drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in 2007. He was not on an NFL roster last season and saw limited action in the United Football League with the Omaha Nighthawks instead. His best shot at making the 53 man roster would be if an injury happened above him on the depth chart. He might make it to training camp in Latrobe, but he likely will not be there to see the end of it.
Jerrod Johnson – Like Smith, Johnson too was signed to a futures contract this past offseason. Although there have been reports that he has improved both his arm strength and accuracy since going undrafted last year out of Texas A&M, there simply will not be enough snap to go around for him should he make it training camp. He is a long shot at best to make it through the early roster cut-downs and an even longer shot to warrant a spot as a developmental quarterback on the Steelers practice squad.
Post Draft Prediction 53 Man Roster Quarterbacks