If the Pittsburgh Steelers aren\’t serious about adding a quarterback at some point during the upcoming draft, they sure are putting up a fantastic smokescreen.
Gil Brandt of NFL.com reports on Monday that Steelers quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner was present this past Thursday at the Miami of Ohio pro day to observe quarterback Zac Dysert throw. As Brandt points out, Dysert draws an obvious comparison to Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who also went to school there.
The Steelers had a large contingency that included Fichtner and offensive coordinator Todd Haley at the Tennessee pro day last week where Tyler Bray threw to several of his top rated receivers. In addition to that late round prospect, Fichtner is also scheduled to be at the Tulane pro day later this week to watch quarterback Ryan Griffin throw.
The Steelers signed quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, formerly of the Cincinnati Bengals, at the start of the free agency signing period to back up Roethlisberger in 2013. That means unrestricted free-agent quarterback Byron Leftwich is almost certain to not be back.
So what about veteran quarterback Charlie Batch, who has said several times since the season ended that he is open to returning to Pittsburgh for another season? Like Leftwich, Batch is also unrestricted and doesn\’t figure to have many suitors this offseason. His status for next season will probably be determined by what happens on draft day. Should the Steelers draft a young quarterback late, Batch presumably won\’t be re-signed.
The Steelers added former Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback John Parker Wilson to the offseason roster a few weeks ago, but he is merely regarded as a mini camp arm right now, and a long-shot at best to make the roster. The Steelers normally take four quarterbacks to training camp with them, so it will likely be either a draft pick or Batch that winds up being the fourth.
The Steelers aren\’t necessarily looking to draft an heir apparent to Roethlisberger, more than they are looking to develop a younger backup to him. Based on Roethlisberger\’s injury history; however, you never know what the need will be four years from now The Steelers drafted Dennis Dixon back in 2008 and at no point was he a threat to Roethlisberger. The same would hold true should they draft another quarterback next month, which is looking more and more likely to happen.