Earlier in the offseason, we took a position-by-position look at where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand with their roster before the free agency process both ravaged and replenished the talent pool.
The Steelers entered the process with 22 free agents. They re-signed six of them, while losing eight more to other teams, with eight remaining unsigned. They also added seven free agents from other teams.
With the roster picture now much clearer and draft needs much easier to determine, it’s time to revisit those positional draft charts to see which positions are areas of need come draft time.
The first position we’ll revisit will be the quarterback position, which is one of the few areas at which the Steelers stayed put through free agency.
In fact, other than kicker, it’s the only position that hasn’t seen any change this offseason. There is good reason for that, but never the less, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s completely off the Steelers’ draft board.
Ben Roethlisberger: The Steelers organization at all levels was adamant this offseason in expressing their desire to ensure that Roethlisberger will be a Steeler for his entire career. Yet, at the same time, that doesn’t guarantee that they will work out a contract extension with the 10-year veteran this offseason, given that he has two years left on his contract.
Roethlisberger has bookended the past two seasons with some of the best football of his career, but sandwiched in between those two peaks is a valley that spans the final stretch of 2012 and the beginning of 2013, during which the Steelers have played some of the worst football since he was drafted in 2004.
Still, by the end of the year, Roethlisberger turned in one of the best seasons of his career, playing a Pro Bowl-worthy season. But he will need to do even better in 2014, especially given the turnover at the wide receiver position.
Bruce Gradkowski: Gradkowski had exactly the kind of season the Steelers were looking forward to when they signed him to a three-year contract last offseason. He didn’t play a single snap all year.
Having finally moved on from Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich, Gradkowski gives the Steelers a capable game manager that can win games and keep the ship right for a few games if Roethlisberger has to miss time. That’s the theory, anyway, but it’s not a theory anybody’s looking to have tested any time soon.
Landry Jones: It was a while since the Steelers last drafted a quarterback before taking Jones in the fourth round last draft. ideally, they would like to see him compete for the backup role with Gradkowski during preseason and training camp, but I wouldn’t put much stock in that happening this season. He showed that he still has a lot to work on mechanically last year.
Draft Prognosis: The Steelers have a trio of quarterbacks that they appear comfortable with, and could very well see them stay put at the position in the 2014 draft. In fact, it’s quite likely that that is how it will play out.
There were reports earlier in the offseason that the Steelers were interested in LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who if available with their third- or fourth-round picks would represent reasonable value. Mike Tomlin was in attendance at his Pro Day yesterday, but of course many other players, most prominently a pair of wide receivers, were there to interest the Steelers as well, so that’s not much to read into.