Steelers Early Offseason Positional Draft Needs – Quarterback

By Matthew Marczi

Ask any Pittsburgh Steelers fan now and he’ll tell you that the offseason began way too early for their team, which even according to team president Art Rooney II should have been in the playoffs.

If you asked that same fan at the Bye Week for their mock draft, however, they might have already had written up as the Steelers faced a seemingly unthinkable winless September to start the year.

There’s always somebody ready to start talking about the offseason, no matter how early on it is in the process. And in the middle of January, it’s still quite early to start talking about the draft—not that there’s nothing wrong with that. Here’s a pre-free agency, pre-salary cap purging look at the Steelers’ draft needs, position by position.

We start with a nice and easy one: quarterback. First, a quick look at what they have to work with:

Ben Roethlisberger: A bona fide franchise quarterback. He’s led the team to multiple Super Bowls. He began to undergo a transition in the second half of the season by being more proactive in his own protection with quicker throws and more check downs. Roethlisberger should still have several years left; there’s no need to start looking for his successor any time soon.

Bruce Gradkowski: The heir apparent to Charlie Batch. Unlike just about every other season of Roethlisberger’s career, the Steelers didn’t have to call on the backup to play a single snap, let alone several games, as he stayed healthy throughout the season. Gradkowski has proven to be a solid backup for several teams over the years, however, so the Steelers more likely than not won’t be looking for an upgrade.

Landry Jones: The developmental quarterback that the Steelers have every so often. Most people are not happy that he’s on the roster because the team traded a third-round pick for a fourth-round pick to draft a player that they likely could have drafted with the fourth-round pick they used on Jones.

The question—which the Steelers don’t have the answer to—is whether or not there’s enough in Jones to develop. If they can’t even project him as a competent eventual backup, then there’s no reason to delay the inevitable. Jones did not look the part at all as a rookie.

Draft Strategy: More likely than not, the Steelers will be shying away from the quarterback position in this draft. There’s no need whatsoever for a starter with Roethlisberger in place and an assurance from the team owner that he will retire in Pittsburgh. Gradkowski is the solid veteran backup.

The only question is whether or not they fall in love with a mid-late-round prospect that they think has more potential than Jones. With many other needs, however, this is pretty unlikely.

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • Callentown

    Dude, if this team spends another mid-round pick on a developmental QB and tosses Landry Jones to the curb – effectively wasting both the pick and the traded pick, well… My trust may finally be shaken in the FO for good.

  • steeltown

    I think the door is open for Landry to be the #2 when Grad’s contract is up, but time will tell. There needed to be a changing of the guard at QB, I think we were all tired of the Leftwich days. I also think a Team should always have a developmental guy on the QB depth chart. The last developmental guy they drafted Dixon didn’t pan out. I had no problem with them drafting another developmental guy, especially considering Batch, Leftwich, Dixon and others are long gone

  • Jeff

    If the Steelers waste another pick on a QB in the mid rounds I’m gunna lose my mind…….

  • Aric Brown

    If AJ Mcarron somehow slips to the 4th or 5th round… i don’t mind that pick

  • Jeff

    I don’t want any quarterback at any point in this draft… Ben, Bruce, and Jones are fine at 1, 2, 3 and on the depth chart…. IMO there’s so many more pressing needs especially on defense than taking a guy like Mcarron just b/c he slips…. JMO

  • ATL96STEELER

    How do they really know what L. Jones can do off the limited snaps he’s had? No…it really makes no sense to take a QB unless a solid prospect with more upside like a Mettenberger slips much further than I think he will…if he’s on the board in the 5th round…okay it’s worth a shot.

  • ATL96STEELER

    I wouldn’t do it to go sideways (imo AJ is going sideways talentwise to Jones) but an upgraded prospect makes sense if they fall to the 5th/6th round, but that’s not going to happen so the point is mute…PIT will not likely be drafting a QB in 2014.

  • Brian Tollini

    Many more needs than this position, I agree with the article completely.

  • Igmond

    Sorry I mis read the comment. Yes they should have not traded away their pick for Shamarko.

  • BurgherinMD

    The only way I would support them drafting a QB if it was a Randle El situation where it was a phenomenal athlete they planned on putting at WR and I do not see that scenario happening this year.

  • treeher

    Just for the heck of it, Dixon’s status: Got a ring with Ratbirds as practice squad QB and then Philly signed him with their new head coach (Kelly) who was the OC at Oregon during his senior year. He still couldn’t stick and was a final cut. Buffalo picked him up when Manuel was injured.

  • steeltown

    Yea his accuracy and ability to dissect plays and coverages was very much lacking

  • http://pittsburghsportsinat.blogspot.com/ bgsteelfan

    Yeah, I would do it is someone like Derek Carr fell, not so much a guy like McCarron.

  • Dennis Nevinsky

    I wouldn’t mind signing a player like Tom Savage if he slips through, undrafted.

  • Shawn S.

    How cool would it be to see another -berger QB become a ‘Burgh-er QB?

  • LayDownTheHammer

    Question for everyone that no one has been able to answer me yet:

    Who is the last Big 12 QB in recent memory who became a legitimate NFL QB?

    And be skeptical here, people. Is Andy Dalton REALLY the answer? Or Sam Bradford? Really?

    Reason I mention it is not only because of Landry, but because Big 12 QBs are all system QBs who have very little experience adjusting to the pro game in which defense is actually played and they can’t go shotgun all the time. (Same with Oregon’s system which is why I am not high on Mariota, but that’s another story)

  • LayDownTheHammer

    My way-too-early educated guess is that he goes in the 2nd round to the team near the top of the draft that passes on a QB and takes the BPA (e.g., Clowney, Barr/Mack, Matthews, Watkins, etc.). In today’s NFL, the presence of a stable QB (whether halfway decent or a star) is the #1 correlator of coach/GM stability. And they want to keep getting paid and covering their asses, so it’s to their advantage to have SOMEONE, even if not particularly good, as QB. It’s a pass-happy league so the stats will be there, even if the QB is not reliable at all. Happened with Vince Young, Sanchize, Dalton, Bradford, Locker, Tannehill, and most recently with Glennon and Keenum.

  • Donny Simmons

    Team needs first! Cb 1a, FS, Olb ( if Woodley is cut there is NO depth) NT, WR. 3rd down back if Stephens-Howling is not back.

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    Maybe a te and ol along the way in later rnds

  • Steve

    Shark was an excellent player to draft.

  • Steve

    O lineman, we have plenty, they just need coached properly. TE – Yes we could use a good one that could take over for Heath in a few years. Defense is where we mainly need to concentrate this draft at. Old and Slow aint getting it anymore.