Steelers Cannot Waste 2013 Draft Pick on QB

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Ben Roethlisberger on draft day 2004.

This Steelers off season has been much like their 8-8 regular season: inconsistent with questionable decisions and very painful for the fans of Steeler Nation.  For the moment the off season pain has subsided by the lure of the NFL Draft which brings excitement and a transitory ray of hope to all fan bases. The NFL draft concludes rounds 4 through 7 today with the Steelers having 5 picks. With their first 3 picks in the books the Steelers are looking to add a future starter or two, depth and special teams with the remaining 5 draft picks and college free agents.The Steelers have needs all over the board and in some positions such as linebacker and safety, they need to draft more than one player. However the one position they absolutely do not have a need for is quarterback. In weeks leading up to the draft I kept hearing they need to draft a quarterback “to groom”. Every time I hear this my head explodes. To groom for what? Why? Third team? The practice squad? To play 6 quarters in the pre-season for the next 4 years?  To hold for extra points? Are you kidding me?

Quarterback is the one and only position they don’t need. The Steelers can ill afford to pick a player who most likely will have no actual or minimal playing time as a Steeler. They just signed Bruce Gradkowski (who has NFL starting experience) to a 3 year contract to back up Ben Roethlisberger who is a franchise quarterback still in his prime. It is imperative the Steelers hit on as many draft picks as they can. They can ill afford more than a couple misses. Drafting a quarterback in today’s final 4 rounds would be a virtual guaranteed miss.

The drafting of quarterback’s league wide

Take a look at the starting quarterbacks in the league today, most (23) are first round picks,  (4) second round picks, (2) third round picks, a 6th round pick (Tom Brady), a 7th round pick (newly anointed Raiders starting QB Matt Flynn) and Tony Romo who was an undrafted free agent.  90% (29 out of 32) of the starting quarterbacks in the NFL were chosen in rounds 1-3.  Many of the 2nd and 3rd team back ups league wide are first and second round picks who could not cut it as an every game starter and more importantly are not with the team they were drafted by. If a team wants a franchise quarterback it is proven that it must be a first  to second round draft pick – or – through free agency like Peyton Manning and Drew Brees. If the Steelers want to groom a quarterback  to be a future starter from the 4th round on, they need to pass on that idea and let another team “groom” a quarterback to be a future Steelers back up quarterback.

Steelers: Have they learned from their own QB  draft history?

In the NFL almost every quarterback drafted past round 3 is a long shot to make the team, develop and then take over the starting job for that team. Still not a believer? The Steelers are a perfect team to illustrate this point. Lets take a look at the Steelers quarterback draft history beginning in 1991 which was Tom Donahoe’s first year as GM:

1992   Round 12       Cornelius Benton            Connecticut

1993   Round 8         Alex Van Pelt                   Pittsburgh

1994   Round 6         Jim Miller                         Michigan State

1995   Round 2         Kordell Stewart                Colorado

1996   Round 6         Spencer Fischer              Duke

2000   Round 5         Tee Martin                       Tennessee

2003   Round 5         Brian St. Pierre                Boston College

2004   Round 1         Ben Roethlisberger         Miami of Ohio

2006    Round 5        Omar Jacobs                   Bowling Green

2008    Round 5        Dennis Dixon                   Oregon

The draft went from 12 rounds to 8 rounds in 1993 and then to 7 rounds in 1994. Now remove Kordell Stewart (Round 2) and Ben Roethlisberger (Round 1) as they fall into the category of potential franchise quarterback based on their draft rounds 1 & 2.  That leaves 8 other quarterbacks who were drafted by the Steelers from 1992 – 2008.  That is an entire draft of players that provided virtually nothing to the Steelers organization (8 picks equal the number of picks the Steelers have in this years draft). The most successful of this group – with the Steelers  – was Dennis Dixon who for unknown reasons the Steelers gave up on. He is now a back up in Philadelphia.  Miller who lasted all of one half as the starter against Jacksonville in the first game of the 1996 season, went on to have moderate success with the Chicago Bears. This is a terrible track record and the worst the Steelers have had at any position past round 3 since 1991 or maybe ever.

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  • Wes Orrick

    You are an idiot. They dont need to draft a QB to be a starter, but THEY HAVE NO BACKUP QB. ZERO NADA ZILCH.

    • Craig

      Far from it – both from an idiot standpoint and that the Steelers don’t have a backup.

      Jim presents a pretty solid case (whether you want to agree or not) that the Steelers have had more success in picking up a vet quarterback who has recently left their original drafted team than trying to draft a backup. That’s his point – that you fail to miss.

      As for a backup – they have four right now. Gradkowski, Batch, and JPW. JPW is a stretch, but Gradkowski and Batch are perfectly fine backups. Batch has always been solid for the Steelers over the years, and Gradkowski brings experience and skill to the table that Leftwich and Dixon could not. Adding Landry Jones to the mix and Batch is probably out. Even though Jones was a stretch for his value and when he went in the draft, he is still going to be a decent backup and might find himself leading this team should Ben not take another snap for the Steelers.

  • Hart

    I completely disagree on several levels.

    1. Gradkowski is a CAPABLE backup but greatly overrated. He is capable…..that is all.

    2. Charlie Batch is crypt-keeper old. I love what he has done……but he is DONE. Make him a team rep, coach or whatever……..playing career over. He won that game against Baltimore…….not by setting the game on fire or anything and the team partied like it was a SUper Bowl win. Cuz it was his LAST WIN>

    3. Your argument against drafting a QB to develop in later rounds is not sound now with the CBA. If you draft a QB in round 4 don’t you get four or five years at minimal money with that QB? Why not develop him for 4 or 5 years? Bruce Gradkowski better now after 5 or 6 years in 5 different systems than Landry Jones could be after two in the same system to learn and to still have for another 2 or 3 years?? Don’t think so. And this leads directly into……..

    4. Ben Roethlisberger is NOT IN HIS PRIME RIGHT NOW. He is in the prime of his contract but not his playing career. He is 31 right now and an old 31 when you consider he plays like a Crash Test Dummy with a rocket on his shoulder……willing to take a ton of abuse as long as he can launch that last-second bomb. Steelers have won two super bowls with him. But you have to admit he cannot last as long as a Marino, Montana, Brees, Rodgers or Brady with his style of play. He has missed numerous games the last few years and should have missed more if you add in the games he played but wasn’t anywhere near ready to play. He has played 16 games how many times in his career? You think that will get better after age 31?? IT WILL NOT.

    5. Drafting a qB to develop for 4 or 5 years is perfect right now considering you needed a backup anyway. A reliable backup in the system. And why can’t Landry Jones be ready to take over in 4 or 5 years? Gradkowski backup now, Landry take over as backup (in the same system) for the next few. That is perfect.

    I think the pick was fine. Steelers needed a QB.