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Wednesday, April 01, 2015

A look at the Steelers by position

With the draft a little under a month away, I'm going to take a look at the Steelers by position as we transition from free agency to the draft.

Today we'll look at the quarterback position.

The Steelers just signed Ben Roethlisberger to a new contract that will allow him to finish his career in Pittsburgh. They're set at the starting position.

The backup slot, however, could be improved.

Veteran backup Bruce Gradkowski is heading into the final season of his contract, and at 32, he might be at the end of the road. If the Steelers learned anything in the Charlie Batch/Byron Leftwich, it's that older quarterbacks can get nicked up - quickly.

Roethlisberger isn't immune to that either, but the 33-year-old hasn't missed a game in the past two seasons as he's adjusted his game to get the ball out of his hands more quickly and take fewer big shots.

Gradkowski is a nice complimentary guy as a backup. He knows the game and knows his place. But if the Steelers were forced to have him start over a long period of time, they, like most teams, would struggle. That's especially true now that they no longer have a shutdown defense as they did in 2010 when they fought their way through a Roethlisberger suspension with a 3-1 record.

Third-stringer Landry Jones hasn't shown himself to be any kind of answer. The 2013 fourth-round draft pick has limitations and they are great.

And since it's unlikely the team will want him around after year three - players become vested after four years - this is a make-or-break season for him.

Former Clemson star Tajh Boyd was signed in the offseason as a camp/offseason arm, but he has limitations as well. Boyd was a sixth-round pick of the Jets last season but didn't make it out of training camp. Boyd will have to show more consistency on his throws and reads to unseat Jones, but he does have a shot.

A rookie will be added to this group, either in the latter rounds of the draft or as an undrafted free agent.


Steve-O said...

Care to venture a guess on which QB the Steelers might take late? I like Bryce Petty out of Baylor. He's a bit of a project, coming from a spread offense, but I think he has potential.

Zeke R said...

Tebow! ;D

Dale Lolley said...

They're not taking a quarterback early, so Petty is out. He'll likely be in the first three rounds.

And no Tebow.

Anonymous said...

I think the Batch / Leftwich era was probably was a great backup QB situation, 2 former starters w/ knowledge and experience. I'd take either of them again over Jones.

Phil said...

I like Blake Sims as a late round/PFA QB. He only had one year of starting experience but he has the athleticism and arm strength to develop into a good backup once he learns how to read defenses better.

Dale Lolley said...
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Dale Lolley said...
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Dale Lolley said...

But both Batch and Leftwich proved to be fragile when called upon. Ideally, the third-string guy doesn't play and develops at least into a No. 2. That hasn't happened with Jones.

Zeke R said...

But yet they are nervous to cut Jones due to the fact that he knows too much about our offense but guys come and go every year. I don't understand why it's so difficult to get a decent #2 guy.

Anonymous said...

They aren't nervous to cut Johes because he knows our offense too well. The FO and/or the coaching staff just don't want to admit he was a wasted pick. One the team couldn't really afford. I think we have wasted 3 or 4 picks at QB the last few years with nothing to show for it. It's frustrating to see the same mistakes over and over again.

kyle said...

Since Tomlin took over in 2007, the Steelers have drafted exactly two QBs. One was a 5th round pick and the other was a 4th round pick. So I'm not sure where the "3 or 4 picks" thing is coming from. They took a flyer on a kid coming off of an injury in Dixon. I imagine they didn't cut Jones this past season because it was only his second year and his only opportunities to show anything are in practice which we don't see and late in preseason games.

I didn't like the pick even before it was made. I think it's silly to draft a back-up. Very few starting QBs were "groomed" for more than one year in the league these days. There are bigger fish to fry on the roster than Landry Jones though.

Anonymous said...

I liked the Dixon pick and still think it was a good idea, he was an ideal backup and, coming off an injury, it was good value.

drinkyourmilkshake said...

"I don't understand why it's so difficult to get a decent #2 guy."

Why don't you talk to the Jets, Redskins, Bucs, etc..
About how easy it is... Those teams and many others have not been able to find a number one guy let alone a number 2 guy.