A week before the NFL draft I wrote an article on why the Steelers needed to draft LB John Simon out of Ohio State. I presented many reasons why he was the one player I felt the Steelers not should, but needed to draft after round 1. Before rounds 4-7 last Saturday I wrote about the absolute failure the Steelers have had for over 20 years drafting quarterbacks past round 3. On Wednesday Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette went one step further and covered the last 25 years of the entire NFL. Only 7 of 125 quarterbacks drafted in 25 years after round 3 have had moderate success as starter for more than one year. Two turned out to be true success stories: Tom Brady in 2000 and Matt Hasselbeck in 1998.
After selecting Shamarko Thomas with their first pick in round 4 (#111) I was hoping the Steelers would take Simon with their second pick (#115) of the 4th round. The Steelers did have Simon in for a visit, they typically draft OSU players and he was now a value pick since he had a third round grade. I was starting to get excited with the thought of Jarvis Jones, Shamarko Thomas and Simon who could have been that linebacker that could have played either inside or outside. But then the Steelers took Oklahoma QB Landry Jones and worlds were about to collide.
Why pass up on not only Simon but there were many other outstanding players who were available that early in the 4th round who can possibly start in a year or two and contribute on special teams immediately? I have read varying opinions on the Landry Jones pick from love it to hate it but all of the Steelers fans that I have spoken with have expressed anger or dismay at the selection. If the Steelers were so dead set on drafting a “developmental” quarterback why didn’t they take Tyler Bray out of Tennessee later? Is there really that much of a gap between Bray and Jones? The knocks on Bray who came out a year early are his immaturity and decision making. Landry Jones knock is his inability to handle pressure or chaos in the pocket. In fact at Oklahoma last year Jones was removed from the game whenever Oklahoma entered the red zone. Oklahoma did so because they felt Jones replacement gave them a better opportunity to score. Does this sound like a quarterback who should have been taken in the 4th round?
Most of the analysts on ESPN and NFL Network did not like the Landry pick and none had much good to say about Landry Jones last 2 years at Oklahoma stating to “throw away” his senior year tape. The analysts said Jones looked like a first round prospect after his sophomore year but got progressively worse because he couldn’t handle pressure or chaos in the pocket. Trent Dilfer went on a tirade trashing Oklahoma and the downward slide of Landry Jones. Only ESPN analysts Bill Polian former Colts GM and Todd McShay liked the Steelers pick of Jones.
It has always been said that because the Steelers have Roethlisberger they will always be in contention and that has proven to be true. What is bothersome about these reports on Jones is that he has not been capable of raising Oklahoma’s level of play. As the team declined so did he or was it the other way around? What Jones’ play has showed is that he is no better than the team surrounding him. Everyone who feels negatively about this pick might be wrong about Jones but the problem is we may never find out. That is what is so bothersome. With so many needs to fill coming off of an 8-8 season why take a player who Steelers GM Kevin Colbert acknowledged in post draft interview, may never see the field?