Why The Steelers Still Might Not Draft A QB This Year

By this point, you’re either thrilled or petrified at the idea of the Pittsburgh Steelers taking the plunge and drafting a quarterback. To roll the dice and try and find the next Ben Roethlisberger, even if in doing so, you lose out on grabbing a player who can help you in the short-term.

It could go really well, like meeting your future wife. Or it could go really poorly, like meeting your future ex-wife.

Or there’s a third option – the team doesn’t end up taking one at all. It’s not impossible.

Asked about the heavy interest in QBs during the draft process, Mike Tomlin said in ways, it was a dry-run, preparing for the moment when they do finally make the move. Here’s exactly what Tomlin said, via ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. 

“[General manager] Kevin [Colbert] and I have spent special attention to that position over the last several years, if nothing else from a dry-run perspective, to gain the knowledge and the information necessary to make good decisions when we come to that fork in the road. Who’s to say that we aren’t there right now?”

Because hey, the Steelers really haven’t had to do this since they took Roethlisberger. For Kevin Colbert, that’s 13 years without taking a serious look at a QB. For Tomlin, this is his first time ever as the man in charge. He’s never had to do it, a crazy thought for a head coach entering his 10th season. So of course they have to prepare for the process, arguably the last thing the coach and general manager have never done together.

As one Depot reader pointed out yesterday, and I’ll take it a step farther, it’s been awhile since the team has even brought in a QB for a pre-draft visit. The last time the Steelers played host to a true, bonafide QB? Nate Davis in 2009. Even Geno Auriemma thinks that is one heck of a streak.

And going through this process of working out quarterbacks, bringing them in for visits could all be part of that dry run. It makes the Steelers familiar with the process and to hone through own evaluation, figuring out what they didn’t know about the process. And in the next year or two, evaluate their own evaluation of this class, as they’re probably doing with the last season or two, too. Where did they get things right on a player’s evaluation? Where did they get things wrong? What surprised them?

With a strong, unchanging organization, they can be pragmatic in this approach, unlike so many teams that come in with a new head coach and immediately begin the search for their franchise QB. And the Steelers are smartly taking advantage of having time to go through that process.

There is obviously a very real chance of them taking a quarterback this season. I’m still of the belief it’ll come on Day Two and not Day one, which rules out Patrick Mahomes – just too many teams interested – making Brad Kaaya and Josh Dobbs the frontrunners, the QBs I’ve selected in my last two mock drafts.

But this could also be the Steelers doing the smartest thing of all. Hitting the books and studying up all they can in 2017 so when 2018 rolls around, they’re as knowledgeable and confident in actually finding the heir to Roethlisberger.

About the Author

Alex Kozora

Full-time blogger from mom’s basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.

  • MattHat121

    Insightful. And I hope you’re right.

  • Sam Clonch

    Like you were reading my mind.

  • Mike Lloyd

    Brilliant analysis of a probable internal ‘audit’.
    I don’t mind if they hone there evaluation. I don’t mind if they take a QB..I prefer they wait one more year, but they know things we don’t…So if they do, it’s because their evaluations dictate they should take a guy.

  • mem359

    I don’t know why people act like Rooney making a statement to the media somehow makes it more likely that a QB will be drafted. I think a simple statement along the lines of “if there is a great QB candidate available, we will consider it” is being twisted into “we will draft a QB no matter how much of a reach it is”.

    Rooney can pick up a phone. Or walk directly to the office of the GM and head coach (or summon them to his office).
    If he wants something done, he doesn’t need the media to communicate it to his staff.

  • Andrew

    Why reach this year when we can grab a better prospect next year. If we see value in a QB, we will take him. If we don’t, then we will wait until next year. The heir to Ben will not come from this draft.

  • Steel-on-Target

    “It could go really well, like meeting your future wife. Or it could go really poorly, like meeting your future ex-wife.”

    Thanks for a good chuckle, Alex 🙂

  • RickM

    I can’t speak for everyone else, but I always assumed this was Ben’s last contract. 16 years sounded like the max to me. Love him or hate him he’s taken the most punishment of any QB with his style of play, refusing to go down if he could extend a play. I expected the succession plan to begin in 2018, but it seems I was probably a year off.

    I see little chance that they won’t take a QB this year. I think they don’t want to be caught unprepared by a possible retirement after the 2017 season. I don’t see a 1st rounder as there’s way too much interest in Mahomes for him to last until 30. But to ensure they get another preferred guy, I just sense they’ll pick the guy a round early. My hope is that they wait until the better QB crop in 2018, as I don’t want them saddled with the wrong guy for several years. But I think they’ll dash that hope. As for the ‘2017 audition theory’ for next year’s draft, I don’t think that matches the personality of either Colbert or Tomlin.

  • Very true. I really think they just want to pull the trigger when the value is right. They signed Landry for 2 yrs but if at certain QB to their liking is there in the 2nd or 3rd and they have come to the conclusion that QB has the traits to become a top 10 or top 5 QB in the league sometime in the next 4-5 yrs than they want to know if the juice is worth the squeeze….if not, I don’t think they will force a pick a round early just to do it…and I think they will wait if need be. However, I do think they would like to find that guy this yr so they can have the more time to develop him and to know if they found their replacement or not in case they need to try again 2 yrs down the road (better to know you have a guy before Ben is gone than to hope) which is why I think they are actually bringing them in this yr and going the extra mile.

  • Conserv_58

    Bravo Alex! IMO, this is your best analysis yet on this subject and one that I adamantly agree with. You accurately articulated all of the pros and cons that I have with this year’s crop of QB’s and the Steelers’ approach to scouting them and doing due dilligence on information gathering.

    Great Job! This was a “drop-the-mic-and-walk-away, End. Of. Discussion.” post for you.

  • george

    “But this could also be the Steelers doing the smartest thing of all. Hitting the books and studying up all they can in 2017 so when 2018 rolls around, they’re as knowledgeable and confident in actually finding the heir to Roethlisberger.” From your mouth to God’s ears.!!!!!!

  • Sam Clonch

    By all accounts, Steelers weren’t targeting a QB in 2004 when they picked Ben. But then a few teams, to include the Browns, decided they would ALL act like the Browns, and passed on him, and he fell in our lap. If they hadn’t of done their due diligence on him, they may not have had the confidence to pull the trigger.

    So part practice, part always be prepared. Who knows, one of these guys may be available in FA in 4 years, and they’ll want him as a backup. (Not like any of them could be worse than Mike Vick of a few years ago….)

  • falconsaftey43

    You can’t say they’ll be able to get a better prospect next year because you can’t say who will be available when they pick this year or next. It’s not like the Browns were they can look at the top QB or 2 in this year and compare them to next year’s draft because they know they’ll be picking in the top 5.

  • budabar

    We have a saying in football -( if your thinking about retirement then your mentally retired )- Ben looks and sounds retired to me and may go through the motions this year but I believe he is in fact mentally retired he just hasn’t announced it yet , this is why the rush on QB’s

  • falconsaftey43

    I think it’s an acknowledgment to the fact that they’ll be picking in the 20’s or later while Ben is here. He has somewhere between 1-4 years left of playing. They need to start looking now for a successor if they’re to have any hope of getting one in place before he leaves. I don’t expect them to draft a QB just to draft one (unless they know this is Ben’s last year). I expect them to have a short list (maybe only 1 guy) who they believe could be a franchise QB. If available when they pick, they’ll make the pick. If not, they’ll look to next year. And the next year. And if they haven’t found that guy by the time Ben retires, then they’ll take whoever the best QB they can get is.

  • Andrew

    While it is likely we won’t have a shot at a top QB, next years class on paper is a lot deeper at QB. While that is subject to change, based off projections, there could be 5-6 QB’s with a first round grade and maybe another 5 with a second day grade. While some of these players may regress or opt out of the draft, odds are the class will be better than this years (this class is weak). Its worth holding out in my opinion and attempting to get a more talented prospect next year.

  • Ni mo

    Yeah and pay Back 16 mill ben is no doll either

  • RickM

    There are a lot of inane sayings in life. Elway made it clear he was thinking about retirement, then he went out and won the SB. Deebo has talked about it for years. I hardly think he’s ‘mailing in’ his performance.

  • Ni mo

    They was targeting a qb cowher wanted Andrews but the rooneys wanted ben

  • Simon Cutts

    Taking the preparation theory to its logical conclusion, do you know who is projected to be in next years QB draft class? Is it projected to be strong QB year?

  • falconsaftey43

    (I don’t know much about the depth, just the top guys, so I’ll take your word for it for now) But, as a team picking late, I don’t think you make that conscious decision to not take a QB this year because there will be “better” ones next year. You evaluate the QBs in this draft, and if you believe in a guy as a franchise QB and he’s available to you, you take him. They don’t need to rush it (unless Ben has told them this is his last year). They can target a guy this year and not end up with him, and then repeat the process next year.

  • Steeldog22

    I know Colbert and Company are much maligned from time to time but considering our success and the train wrecks a lot of other front offices are, I think they do a very good job. They look ahead better than most while fielding a more than competitive team, and this could be part of that process, one way or the other. They always seem to keep their files and kick the tires (or more) on FAs they have shown draft interest in (e.g. Cockrell) to fill in gaps. Sign their own known commodities and let others go. Every now and then there’s a bad experience but it is usually minor compared to the wholesale disarray you see on many other teams. Definitely more hits than misses. They do their due diligence and it pays off.

  • falconsaftey43

    That is the general perception, but let’s just take a quick look at QBs who were projected/talked about being the #1 pick the next year…Hackenberg, Barkley, Cardel Jones, Bridgewater…and oh yes, Landry Jones was at one point considered a potential #1 overall pick.

  • Sam Clonch

    There was no QB by that name in the 2004 draft. And no one expected any of the big 3 to fall to 11.

  • Boots

    I agree with your premise here. I’ve been arguing this also. We’ve been lucky to have a franchise qb for the last 13 years so we haven’t had to look at qbs, so this is acknowledgement that the window is closing, but it doesn’t make sense to draft one that doesn’t blow them away!

  • StrengthOfVictory

    I think it’s precisely *because* there are a few pro-ready QBs expected to be available next year that the Steelers are looking long and hard at THIS year’s class. Next year, every team in desperate need of a franchise QB will be fighting over the top prospects—likely meaning we’ll see yet another big trade of future picks for one team (at least) to move up. Do you want the Steelers in on that brawl? I don’t.

    If they believe they can get a future starter this year—without having to move up or down to do it—that’s a huge win. Remember also that the Steelers were one of the teams eyeing Prescott last year, so it’s not impossible to think they could score an underrated talent without spending too much.

    I don’t want the Steelers to chase a QB in a year where you have to compete with a team like the Browns. Take advantage of their willingness to wait and go get your guy (if he’s there).

  • RickM

    The latest, incredibly detailed story about that draft day is that management specifically asked Cowher if he would have a problem taking a QB at 11. He told them he had no problem with it and then they just waited to see if any of the Big 3 fell. Ben supposedly was not taken first or second because of his affiliation with a smaller school. Everyone knew the talent was their, but Manning and Rivers seemed safer given their level of college competition.

  • StrengthOfVictory

    I believe Cowher wanted Rivers.

  • Sam Clonch

    I’m not surprised they took one once one fell. A 6-10 season from Tommy Maddox wouldn’t leave any team too optimistic!

  • RickM

    Agree. I think we got lucky as supposedly Ben’s Pro Day was exceptional and our scouts loved him.

  • Sam Clonch

    If anyone thought Prescott was going to be anything more than a backup, he wouldn’t have lasted until the 4th round. Some teams miss every time (Browns), and sometimes everyone misses (Dak/Brady/Warner, etc.)

    Can’t get behind the idea of the Steelers taking a fringe guy this year to “avoid competition” for a top guy next year. A top QB is worth giving up some future picks. Whereas using a top pick on a guy you’re just going to have to replace in a few years is just a wasted pick.

  • Andrew

    Oh I agree with that, its just this QB class is pretty weak. I hope we don’t reach for a QB in this draft. I feel like a better one could be had next year.

  • Sam Clonch

    Haha, how’d Winslow work out for you, Cleveland!!!

  • Steeler-Drew

    Based on the Steelers actions regarding the QB position I’m starting to doubt Ben even plays out his contract at this point. If I were to venture a guess he may play next year but part of it will depend on how this year shakes out. I believe he hasn’t made any promises to the organization beyond this year.

    In an ideal world the Steelers fill their positions of need at OLB, CB, S, ILB, and TE in the first 4 rounds. But those wishes are starting to feel more like a pipe dream at this point.

  • Sam Clonch

    Lol, just breathe and remember that the Steelers follow their draft board. They aren’t the knee-jerk type organization that’s going to make emotional draft picks. Just remember back to 1996 when our starting qb walked in FA, we had just lost the SB and were drafting #29. They took an OT! There’s no panic in the Rooney’s game.

    If they think a QB at #30 is better than any of the players in a class that is supposedly LOADED with talent at OLB, DB, and TE, then they’ll draft him. But I don’t think anyone really believes there are any QBs in this years draft like that.

  • Conserv_58

    If you look at what Ben loses in bonus money and salary if he retires early it could equal the entire annual budget for a small school district, including capital improvement requests.

  • Alex Kozora

    I read your comment yesterday, too.

  • VaDave

    If I was the one that drafted St. Pierre, you can bet the ranch I’d drafting his replacement the next year LOL!!

  • VaDave

    Agreed.

  • Alex Kozora

    Thanks man!

  • Conserv_58

    Ah, therein lies the ultimate reality check. The Steelers’ draft philosophy has always been to select the BPA at their pick, despite that player’s position. Therefore, If anyone thinks that the Steelers have, Mahomes rated as the top talent on their board, enough to be their #1 pick, even at #30, you’re delusional. It is for that reason why laugh out loud at those that think Mahomes will be their #1 pick. He is not even close to being in the running as premier blue chip prospect, let alone, the Steelers BPA pick in the first round.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    Meeting with all 5 of the top QB prospects is a helluva dry run. Wouldn’t you say?

  • paltel

    Why are the odds better next year for the Steelers to get a quality QB? I see no reason to believe that to be true.

  • VaDave

    Just an honest question, how does one replace the irreplaceable? The odds on finding an equal value at QB is slim to none drafting later in the first round. Ben is unique, and what we will end up with will be different. If all we are looking for is another Ben, that is only going to mean disappointment. What I am hoping for from the FO is finding a guy that can play well enough that we can successfully build around his particular skill sets.

  • Conserv_58

    You need to remember that there is a considerable amount of subterfuge and smoke-n-mirrors gamesmanship going on leading up to the draft. Teams employ disinformation campaigns in order to keep their competition guessing as to what direction they may be leaning with their picks.

  • Alex Kozora

    Nothing wrong with overkill. Colbert said this QB depth is terrible so if they’re going to meet with guys, it’s no surprise to see the top players brought in.

  • Conserv_58

    Meh. That means surrounding Landry Jones with blue chip talent which if Ben gets hurt or retires they’re already doing.

  • Sam Clonch

    Haha, I thought it sounded familiar, but wasn’t going to suppose I was much of an influence!

  • Sam Clonch

    The best QBs in a draft class are going to have the best agents too, who are going to be feeding them info on how to act/answer questions/ etc. It might be important to be able distinguish what’s genuine about a player, and what’s been programmed. Best way to prepare for stuff like that it’s to get exposed to it.

    Maybe. I dunno. It makes sense to me that if you want to prepare for the full experience, you should EXPOSE yourself to the full experience.

  • VaDave

    Got any better ideas? I’m sure we will come across somebody with a little more oomph that Landry, but If I were a betting man, I put up the ranch to say what we end up with is a step down.

  • 50 year-old thoughts

    If you see something you like take it!

    Waiting and hoping for next year is scary since it’s hard to find NFL QBs. For years–every year–I seem to get excited about a guy who puts up or is about to put up big numbers running around the college stadiums, but it just never translates.

    Most of these spread 100 MPH college offenses are so simple… If you throw the ball 60x a game, you are guaranteed 400 yards.

    On the other hand, Kaaya for instance, had solid college numbers this year (apx 270 YPG – 27 TDs / 7 INTs). I like his under center game film and his calm intensity. If a guy can set records in Miami with a lot of prostyle schemes, while a bunch of starters were dismissed and the school was under sanctions, that’s s good sign.

    Dobbs played all that time at Tennessee and managed an Engineering degree. Impressive. So while his offense was a lot of spread, I do suppose he could grasp NFL concepts.

    How about a guy like Bethard out of Iowa? His offense was not flashy, but it was a pro style system so I gotta believe he’s more proven and ready than many.

    Let’s all remember that Kirk Cousins and Goropolo are now highly sought after. They were able to sit around develop and had the capacity to learn the game…but coming out of college they didn’t have those insane numbers (and hype) to get them up into the first round conversation.

    So let’s not be dazzled by the lights (or next years lights) again, and draft and develop a solid guy sooner than later.

  • Alex Kozora

    lol, well we were on the same wave length. I had tweeted something similar out right after the news, before your comment.

  • Sam Clonch

    You do good work buddy.

  • AndyR34

    That’s exactly what that means, because, as VaDave said, finding another Ben is unlikely. Top 5-6 QB’s do not show up in every draft.

  • 50 year-old thoughts

    BTW the future wife analogy is perfect!

  • RickM

    I don’t know how many years Ben will play. It’s easy to argue 3 with the financial rewards; it’s easy to argue 1 with the physical toll of his style of play for 13 years, and his young family of course.

    I don’t think Colbert and Tomlin are doing all this QB work as a dress rehearsal. They have too much confidence to feel they need to practice that. So yes, one other need could easily be bumped back this year.

  • RickM

    Lol, it was a definite flyer.

  • Conserv_58

    I am not disagreeing. I was stating the obvious.

  • Conserv_58

    I’ve decided that I’m going to provide a link to this thread as the definitive, end all analysis if and when I enter into another thread on this topic.

  • Alex Kozora

    Ha, well I don’t believe this is the “end all.” Just a competing thought, which are always useful at a time like this.

  • Conserv_58

    It’s hammer-to-nail dead on insight. You are selling yourself short on this one. The premise and contex is so well constructed and articulated that IMO, it ends any further discussion and specualtion about the what-if issue.

  • RickM

    Yes, monster, monster mistake and BB played in Ohio. Wow.

  • Conserv_58

    The heir to Ben doesn’t have to come from the first round either, least you forgot that Tom Brady was a sixth round pick.

  • Ni mo

    This class is weak

  • Conserv_58

    That saying came from the lips of Steelers’ four time SB winning coach, Chuck Noll. Chuck said, “If you are talking about retiring then you’re already retired.”

  • Ni mo

    Mahomes worked out of the shot gun mostly

  • Ni mo

    He want Andrews

  • Ni mo

    The rooneys made cowher take ben he didn’t want a qb he wants the LT Andrews

  • Conserv_58

    LOL!

    Colbert to Tomlin after all QB meetings have ended: “Well, that only confirmed that I was right. They’re all terrible, but we did afford ourselves a great opportunity to hone our information gathering skills.

    Tomlin: Obviously.

  • BradleyT

    Who was Andrews?

  • MattHat121

    Not completely true considering Burns pick last year? Obvious need vs. BPA.

  • Conserv_58

    No. Cowher wanted Phillip Rivers. Rivers got drafted by the Giants and Eli was drafted by the Chargers. Then they swapped QB’s.

  • Mark

    We shouldn’t reach for a QB at any point in this draft, however, if someone is on the board in the 5th round that we placed a 3rd round grade on then I say let’s pull the trigger.

  • Andrew

    How many QB’s are worth a first round pick? Tribusky, one year starter and struggles with mechanics. He’s the best QB. Mahomes, big arm, shaky elsewhere. Watson is back and forth. None of these QB’s would even be close to the first round next year. There are 6 QB’s in first round consideration right now. Odds are, there will be a better prospect available next year as opposed to this year. The star power is better there. Play to the strength of the draft. This drafts strength is not in QB, its defense and some skill positions. Strengthen up on those, and next year play to the strength of that draft which looks like it could be QB’s

  • Andrew

    Brady is once in a lifetime. That being said, I am ok with taking a QB in this draft. I think that should be past round 5 though. Someone could develop, but ideally we get someone that can take over for Landry in two years.

  • Dean O’Brien

    With the exception of an EDGE rusher and two stacked lines the Steelers really can look for ‘Best Available Athlete’ to upgrade depth all over the field.

  • Conserv_58

    I’ve already posted this, but it was that draft that former Steelers GM and then current GM of the Bills, Tom Donahoe made the second biggest draft day blunder of his career up to that point. The Bills were looking to find their next Jim Kelly. I remember reading how Donahoe and his whole staff attended Ben’s pro day and after it was over Donahoe was asked what he thought. Donahoe was in awe of Ben’s workout saying that he had everything and did everything exceptionally well. He gushed over Ben’s intermediate and deep throws along with his confident attitude.

    As it turned out the Bills had the pick right before the Steelers pick and I was dreading having to hear it announced that the Bills selected Ben. When it came time for the Bills to hand in their pick I was absolutely convinced Donahoe was taking Ben. Then came the announcement that they took a different player and I could not believe what I heard. The Steelers quickly handed in their pick and when it was announced that they took Ben I jumped in the air totally excited. To add insult to injury, Donahoe then traded their 2005 first round pick to Dallas in order to move up in the second round to take QB, J.P. Losman.

  • Conserv_58

    There are indeed exceptions to that rule.

  • Sam Clonch

    Bwahahahaaaaa…

  • Jeff B.

    If the team believes they now have a window of only the next few years in which they need to find their next franchise QB, they’re doing the right thing by looking now. Given the year-to-year uncertainties of the draft and how other teams and bad luck could disrupt the Steelers’ best laid plans, they should be looking for every opportunity to select a QB now IF the stars align. To me that means: i) they are very excited about the guy, believing he has a super high ceiling and the leadership and personality traits they seek, AND ii) offers a good value (not a reach pick), AND iii) they don’t have someone else on their draft board for that round who is a “must have” selection. The Steelers have to know that they do not want to be in a “must draft a QB” scenario in future years because who knows how the draft would align and if they would be able to snag someone they believe can be Ben’s true replacement? Our #3 QB slot on the roster could be made available this year to allow for a year of learning, and still allow, if needed, for a repeat of drafting a QB if the guy seems to be a bust after they have one year of watching him in practice. My guess is that they are going into every draft from now on with the “we will pounce if the stars align” attitude. They know that always having a top notch starting QB is critically important. Do I want them to draft a QB this year? No, Not really. Will I be okay if they do so, even as early as round 2? Most definitely, because that would say to me they believe they may have found Ben’s replacement and that we will all have the next few years to gain confidence that Ben’s departure does not cause us to fall off a cliff in terms of no longer competing for the division title (or better!) every year. Again, I think they are now on permanent alert to draft Ben’s true replacement if the right pick at the right value falls into their lap.

  • Joseph Shaw

    …And to be ready in case a really good one happens to fall into their lap at some level of the draft when they weren’t expecting it, sure.

  • RickM

    I think you should always go in with the mindset that you’re drafting a future franchise QB. And to me that means a guy with good talent who utilizes the weapons around him. If he ends up being a HOF guy, it’s obviously a fantastic bonus.

    I know the odds are that it may take several attempts, but we’ve seen in recent years that franchise guys are out there even in the 3rd or 4th rounds (Prescott, Wilson, and to a lesser extent Cousins). IMO, you don’t even think about Roethlisberger when you’re drafting. You just try to find a quality starter. He may even have a totally different style of play. Settling for someone that you feel is of lesser quality doesn’t seem a good approach, to me at least. I guess you could do it if you have no starter on the roster. Otherwise, you just wait until the next draft.

  • RickM

    He wasn’t infallible, as Deebo has shown. I hardly think a guy who hits the weight room early Monday morning ‘has already retired’. In the end, it boils down to personal pride and work ethic.

  • Smart post, Alex, with a smart theory about what the Steelers might be doing. (I don’t say that with any sarcasm at all!) Having signed Landry, it just doesn’t make much sense to draft Ben’s long-term successor this year — why, so he can sit on the bench for 2-3 years, at a time when many rookie QBs are coming in and starting right away, and having success? Unless they know something about Ben, or are truly worried that he might retire in 2018, which is possible.

    But to your argument, Alex, this is also a huge smokescreen, and we know teams do that all the time. They throw other teams off the scent by shaping conventional wisdom, by hyping expectations. While I’m not one for conspiracy theories, maybe Ben is also playing up his retirement talk as part of this effort. A lot of people think he’s serious!

    Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t, but I just don’t see the Steelers going QB early, and I just don’t think you can feel at all confident about getting your long-term franchise QB in the third round or later. Sure, there are exceptions, like Dak, but the exceptions only prove the rule. Surely the Steelers don’t think the next Ben is a third- or fourth-round pick. So fill the holes early — OLB, CB, RB, maybe also ILB, S, TE — because you’re a Super Bowl-caliber team. If you get the third or fourth and there’s a QB just sitting there for you, okay, but maybe the better option is taking a QB in the first either next year or the year after.

  • tcirish53@gmail.com

    In ten years colleges have dumbed down their offenses such that this is probably even a new situation for Colbert!!

    I desperately do NOT want them to pick a QB this year. A pretty meh class from all I read, and unless we get Mahomes I am really not interested in a 4th round backup to the backup.

  • RickM

    The actual truth, and it’s a direct quote from Colbert, is ‘we asked Coach Cowher and he was unselfish enough to say if there’s a QB we like at 11, take him’. He didn’t specify the QB had to be Rivers. Colbert referred to him as unselfish because he knew it was unlikely Cowher would play a rookie QB in 2004. But of course he did. There are eumors out there that Cowher preferred Rivers or Andrews, but I don’t think he or Colbert had ever confirmed that as fact.

  • RickM

    Yes the Bills wanted him, but they picked two picks after the Steelers in 2004.

  • RickM

    According to their execs at the time, they loved Ben but they’d just signed Jeff Garcia and they still had Tim Couch. Too many QB’s I guess lol. Man their fans must have thought of that draft day thousands of times and what could have been.

  • Steel Realist PAul

    I really hope the Steelers don’t spend a high pick on a QB – UNLESS he turns out to be great lol

    Fickle fans we are..

  • Sam Clonch

    Can’t wait till Ben beats them in Cleveland this year, and becomes the winning-est QB for their stadium!

  • King Black

    I think they should pick up Kizer or Watson if by some stroke of luck one of those two are available at 30 or 20ish if they are willing to trade up. Both need a year to get set (Kizer maybe 2) and this works perfectly with Ben’s waning desire to play. Being ben’s back up is almost a full guarantee u will get at least 2 games where u start, 3 if the team is doing well and has secured a playoff spot. We just need to get 2 years out of Ben then we can hand the keys over to junior player who has had 2 years of being a back up and at least 4 games starting while still being in the same system. But this is hoping they actually get a solid qb

  • Steeler-Drew

    Lol, I want your confidence that if Mahommes is sitting there at #30 and there are a handful of players at OLB, CB, S, or TE who are clearly are better prospects and they pass on Mahommes. There may not be panic but that’s not to say they won’t reach to fill a need. They have done a great job over the years of trying to select the BPA but it has not been without flaws. Burns and Davis filled a need when perhaps they were not the BPA. One could argue they filled a need with J. Jones when Eiffert was the BPA. They obviously reached for Archer after becoming enamored with his speed. Probably could have easily selected him in the 5th round. L. Jones in the 4th round was a questionable pick at the time. They selected Coates in the 3rd round knowing Bryant was going to be suspended when they desperately needed help on the defensive line.

    You also have to consider the Rooney factor. Obviously when he speaks they listen. When he said he wanted more protection for Ben they fixed the offensive line. Last year he said they needed to improve their secondary and they used their first two picks to improve that.
    Now he is saying they need to address the future of the QB position and improve their pass rush. I will not be surprised if they pass on a better CB prospect by choosing an OLB or QB of lesser talent.

    This draft screams of drafting heavy on defense for the first 4 rounds but I’m pretty certain it will not turn out that way. I can live with a good TE in the first 4 but I’m guessing they will be throwing in either a QB, RB, or WR in one of those rounds.

  • Alex Kozora

    I don’t buy it’s a smokescreen. Team isn’t going to waste their time and energy for something like this. That’s generally not how smokescreens go, anyway.

  • Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s *all* a smokescreen. Obviously, the Steelers are very serious about looking into QBs in this draft — whether it’s to draft one they look or as a dry run. What I mean is, all that time and energy, along with the various statements about drafting a QB, form a sort of smokescreen, disguising the team’s actual intentions.

  • dany

    Only the next Brady, in the sixth round. But compensatory pick this time

  • dany

    Favre had two amazing seasons (granted, sandwiched between 2 awful ones) that fell one game short of the superbowl while he had very open retirement talks and unetirements. You may be right about some people, but everyone is different

  • Darth Blount 47

    Good article, Kozora.

    I’ve spoken to a similar thought on a previous post that I made, but you sort of spun it and took it that extra step.. which was great.

    The gist of my prior point was that beyond them simply “doing their due diligence,” a team HAS to be prepared for all aspects of the draft. It would be negligent for them to not have a good grasp on who these QB were, which teams are in the hunt for them, which teams really seem to value which ones for which reasons, and then how could Pittsburgh fleece those said teams – if the moment arises in the draft and there are trading partners blowing your phone up!

    Also, yes, they must be prepared just in case a QB that they secretly really like, just so happens to fall right into their laps, at a surprising and unexpected point, where they almost would be foolish to turn them down. I doubt this happens in this relatively suspect class, but it could. Especially after already having filled a few of the more pressing needs earlier in the draft.

    Lastly, with Tony Romo now retiring, that adds yet another team in the Houston Texans, who just came out and declared that they will now be looking to the draft to find their next QB. Think they aren’t already looking hard at the home-state-kid in Mahomes?? ‘Cause they are. Pittsburgh suddenly, if reports are true, has a lot more teams than you’d think, in the hunt for a QB this year. I think more than anything, they are gonna simply not find the right spot to be able to pull the trigger on drafting one, as the draft is gonna shake in a way that will make them stick to their usual strategy of being patient and hunting down their more pressing needs.

    Which circles it all back to your contention, that this will all just serve as a good practice observation for next year or the year after. VIVA LA ROETHLISBERGER!

  • Darth Blount 47

    THANK YOU! I went back and read all of what Rooney has said this off-season. I never heard some definitive statement that we MUST draft a QB this year.

  • Reggie Cunningham

    I don’t there will ever be a great group of qbs coming out college anymore.

  • Boots

    I think another overlooked aspect could be that the info gathered on these QB’s isn’t all about the draft, but rather down the line a few years when these guys start hitting free agency. We’ve seen it with guys like B.W. Webb, Cockrell, Ladarius Green, and Justin Hunter the last few years.

  • Alex Kozora

    Right, it can be two fold. If they find someone they really like this year then hey, that works too. And if they don’t, they now know the process really well, can continue to evaluate their valutaions and go find that guy in 2018 (or whenever).

  • Conserv_58

    Actually if Ben was to retire now he would have to pay back eighteen million dollars of his bonus money. He would forefit seventeen million dollars, per season, for the remaining three years of his contract.

  • Conserv_58

    My comment regarding, Cowher’s preference for Rivers was not based on what Colbert had to say, but rather the statements he made to others when asked the question of whom he preferred. Furthermore, there is no record of any QB in that 2004 draft with the name of Andrews because he never existed.

  • RickM

    I realize you are providing ‘point/counterpoint’ commentary Alex (pointing out that there is more than one option). But I think common sense is being shuffled off into a corner here. As you say in your comments below, the use of draft time and resources is critical because the draft is the lifeblood of any team. You don’t dedicate valuable time and resources on positions you’re not immediately interested in.

    Further, two very experienced football men don’t need a dry run before they pick a QB a year from now. Colbert has drafted multiple QB’s before, one a future Hall of Famer. He’s not new to it, and neither is Tomlin as I’m sure he participated in the Landry Jones discussions. I think your initial suggestion that they’re drafting a QB in 2017 is most likely spot-on.

  • Steeler-Drew

    Obviously the money could be a factor but when he is already talking retirement 3 years prior at this point money may not be an object. I did hear if he retired this year he would pay back 19 million in signing bonus. It drops to 12 million and 6 million the final two years. Nineteen million in one year is probably a tough pill to swallow regardless of how much money he has. My guess is the 6 million dollar figure is a much easier pill to swallow.

    As for smoke and mirrors I’m not completely sold on that. When you are limited to only 30 visits there should be a genuine interest in drafting that player you brought in for a visit. I hope you and Sam are right but this is smelling like a forced pick may be made when the objective should be strengthen the defense even more to give them a shot at the Super Bowl while Ben is still the QB.

  • RickM

    I didn’t suggest Andrews was a QB, and I realize he isn’t. The rumor has also circulated however that Cowher liked him at 11 and Cowher made no such reference when Colbert asked if he objected to a QB being taken at 11.

    Have you got a source for your comment that Cowher made statements to others about preferring Rivers, or is that just memory. I ask that because you tell a story about Tom Donahoe below saying he had the pick before the Steelers, and he didn’t.

  • J Jones

    Been saying it all offseason. Why not control your own fate? Too many “experts” claim that this is such a weak qb draft. Maybe there arent the top 10 prospects (many of which are busts anyway) but there are a few guys that seem to have late 1st early 2nd written all over them. Why not take 1. Then nxt yr fans will kill Tomlin and Colbert bc our only viable options are Landry, Geno Smith and Jay Cutler.

  • J Jones

    Things change so much from yr to yr. At one point in history Hackenberg was considered a cant miss prospect.

  • Andrew

    That’s true, but we know that this class in deep in some position of needs. Secondary, Pass Rusher, Pass Catcher (TE/WR), and Running Back. All can be upgraded in this draft. Too many questions at QB for me to want to take one high.

  • paltel

    From the Steelers point of view it is more of a question of which QB is a second round pick given the pick is at 1-30 and I see several that pass that test, though I’d only take Mahomes which I expect to be gone way before that. Pittsburgh should take a flyer on Chad Kelly in round 4 or maybe 5. I dont know much about star power, but I believe both those QBs have the experience, measurables and play with a fire in the belly. Its that fire in belly is what wins championships. No doubt next year draft will have a few fiery QBs I’ll like just well, but for now those are my best hopes for a Steelers QB.

  • Conserv_58

    I submitted a post earlier this a.m. regarding an article that, Dale Lolley of the Observer Reporter wrote that the Steelers’ are using the QB’s and safeties in this draft as a smoke screen. The article centered on the same point I’ve made that if fans want to get a pretty good idea of whom the team is targeting in the draft then pay close attention to whom they bring in for visits. Lolley is one of my favorite Steelers sports writers because his unique insights are quite accurate.

  • Terrible Towlie

    being how they want a RB and a WR….why not take a guy that is both, and runs a 4.3…..Curtis Samuel OSU

  • Terrible Towlie

    Andrews was a tackle

  • J Jones

    I hear u and if our qb came out and said he wants to play for 3 more yrs i wouldnt wanna reach for a qb. But considering our current situation we gotta think qb early. The comp pick will help to address any additional concerns