The Pittsburgh Steelers are facing an unprecedented situation. Their quarterback of nearly two decades has hung up his cleats, and their general manager of 22 years is stepping down after the NFL draft in April. Both are Hall of Fame talents who are, essentially, irreplaceable.
Ironically, the tall task of trying to find Ben Roethlisberger’s successor lies primarily on the shoulders of nearly-departed general manager Kevin Colbert.
We all can debate until we’re blue in the face about what Colbert and the Steelers will do at No. 20 overall (and their five picks beyond), but only they know how their draft board looks — and even that is fluid until the week of the draft.
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Of course, one of the hotly-contested topics is the Steelers quarterback situation. Head coach Mike Tomlin hasn’t been shy about his team’s desire to add another quarterback to the roster. In a recent interview with Pittsburgh Steelers team reporter Missi Matthews, Tomlin said it’s likely that a fourth quarterback will be added via the draft.
“The draft, I think, is our target as we sit here today, but there’s so many moving parts in draft development … we’ll see what happens and transpires,” Tomlin said. “Obviously, how the names come off the board have a lot to do with that.”
All About the QB
The key to Mike Tomlin’s statement is the words “how the names come off the board.” The comment implies that if a quarterback the Steelers like is there when they’re on the clock, they’ll take him.
Kevin Colbert, Tomlin’s partner in the draft process, spoke with a select number of reporters at the NFL Annual League Meetings and echoed a similar sentiment.
Colbert told reporters on March 27 that they don’t have to reach in the draft, and they are holding onto their draft capital.
“I think we go into the draft feeling that we can add from the bottom up, not necessarily having to plug in a starter,” Colbert said. “That’s always a nice place to be when you’re entering into the draft, and you try to take the best players. I’ll also add that anything we did in free agency will not preempt us from taking another player at any of those positions where we’ve added players.”
The Steelers were unusually active during the first wave of free agency, addressing needs at every position other than safety. The signings of newcomers Mitch Trubisky (quarterback), Mason Cole (center), James Daniels (guard), Myles Jack (linebacker), Levi Wallace (cornerback) and Gunner Olszewski (wide receiver) allow them flexibility and freedom when it comes to the draft board. While Pittsburgh still needs depth at receiver, cornerback, and both lines, Colbert feels the team has “starting-caliber” players at 25 of 26 positions.
Signing Trubisky also gives them security. If the quarterback they want — and judging from Pro Days, that quarterback appears to be Malik Willis — is gone by pick 20, there’s no reason to panic and trade what precious little draft capital they have to acquire him. Perhaps they could draft a suitable camp arm in the later rounds.
It simply doesn’t make sense to mortgage the future just because you need a fourth quarterback, even if he has starter potential after a year or two of development. It’s widely viewed that none of the quarterbacks in this draft class are strong relative to years past — they wouldn’t go in the first round if they had come out in previous drafts. If their talent is not worthy of a first-round selection, why do it?
Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post reported the Steelers “would consider trading up if their top QB slips past nine.”
Who do you believe?