Steelers’ Selection of Landry Jones is a Head Scratcher

Landry JonesThere is no question the Pittsburgh Steelers needed to accomplish something whether through the late rounds of the NFL Draft or in signing undrafted free agent players. That ‘something’ was to find a younger back-up quarterback for Ben Roethlisberger as Byron Leftwich is out of the picture and with Charlie Batch being somewhere near the age of gaining his AARP card.

The Steelers took step towards this goal by signing Bruce Gradkowski this spring. The problem there is that Gradkowski himself is 30 years old and has been nothing short of a journeyman QB.

Yesterday in the third and final day of the 2013 NFL Draft, the Steelers traded a 2014 third round pick to Cleveland in order to move up and take Syracuse safety Shamarko Thomas which was a move I liked. It was their original 4th rounder that has me banging my head against a wall. With this pick they chose Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones.

With so many needs and areas to fill depth into, why was drafting Jones here so important?

There was still talent at receiver, both offensive and defensive lines and plenty of guys at linebacker as well. QB depth in this draft wasn’t great, but there were guys that the Steelers had worked out and interviewed still available in round seven. By drafting Jones, you get a guy with a lot of college experience. You also get a guy whose best ball was probably his junior season.

In my mind, unless the Steelers are planning already for the departure of Ben Roethlisberger, this is a wasted pick. Last I checked, Roethlisberger was 31 years old, not 37 or even 35. Why the rush to find his replacement now?

If the Steelers are going to use the ‘Ben gets hurt a lot’ excuse for drafting Jones, then why not do more in the way of protecting your $100 million dollar investment? If I look at the rest of the draft, only the additions of Le’Veon Bell and Markus Wheaton do anything to potentially make Roethlisberger’s life easier. No offensive linemen were chosen by the Steelers despite the fact they may have issues at left tackle and with depth.

The Steelers could have done so much more with that selection in the fourth round. Now Jones will sit on the bench for four years (unless the Steelers cut ties with Roethlisberger and don’t be surprised if they do) and be a pick that could have been on the field. I cannot recall a two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback ever being this disrespected by his organization.

Take a QB in the 6th or 7th but the fourth round? Nice message you are sending to your franchise QB.

As a Steelers’ fan, I obviously hope for Super Bowls every year. I fear in the last ten years we have been a bit spoiled though┬áby three trips to the big game and for those of us who remember the 1980’s, we are in no rush to return. Perhaps only when Roethlisberger is gone will the front office and some parts of the fan base really appreciate him.

This draft was an opportunity to fill many spots and instead we blantantly and unecessarily wasted one of those opportunities.

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24 comments on “Steelers’ Selection of Landry Jones is a Head Scratcher

  1. I think they went QB too high & I also think they took the wrong guy. Looking at the twitter bios of the players they drafted it seems they were more interested in character (they’re all Jesus freaks) than talent & impact.

    • THere’s no question character was a big deal this year after being burned by Ta’amu and Rainey from last year’s draft. They can be Jesus freaks or satanic worshipers for all I care as long as they perform on Sundays.

  2. I think u are wrong about the steelers disrespecting Ben, look at how many QB’s New England drafted to back up Brady. They learn behind Brady and then they get traded. Its smart drafting and smart for the future! Your just trying to stir the pot with this article!

    • Let me ask you this, are the Steelers so talented and so deep that they can afford to draft a QB who will never play in the fourth round? As I said, a younger back-up was a must this year but not in the fourth round. They could have easily gotten just as talented of a QB in the late rounds. If Ben were 34 or 35, then yes, draft for the future by all means but he still has a few more high-quality years in my opinion. This was a wasted pick.

  3. Well, I believe Pittsburgh sincerely valued Landry Jones in relation to still being available in the 4th round. Clearly. They drafted him here.

    Point is, is that any of you/us can argue that there were other QB’s of equal talent to Jones (that could have been drafted later) , but that may not be the case through the eyes of the Steelers.

    This pick does not bother me in the slightest. Sit & learn now, behind Ben, so that when Ben does leave/retire, Landry could potentially ‘hit the ground running’.

    Especially when you consider that QB is the most important position on a football team. Period.

    Like the pick..

    • Thanks for reading Matt… Great thing about Steeler Nation is we can agree or disagree all we want to but we all have the same goal in mind and that’s for the team to be successful. Jones may well be a good pro QB but I just think the Steelers could have done far better in terms of talent in other positions with that pick.

  4. Sidenote: I don’t believe for one moment that the drafting of Landry Jones will/is disrespect(ing) Ben Roethilsberger.

    Ben desires for the PIttsburgh Steelers to be successful, whether he is on the field, or the back-up QB.
    My observations have led me to believe that any/all back-up QB’s that have been on our roster, Ben does nothing but 100% support them & encourage them.

    That will not change, even with Landry.

    • While I believe Roethlisberger has done a tremendous amount of maturing in his time in Pittsburgh, the only way he supports Landry playing is if Ben is on the sidelines injured. Which is what I assume you are referring to.

  5. According to Ben last year, he could have died when he feel on the football, but let’s forget about that for a minute. Ben has taken probably more hits over the past ten years than any other quarterback and that doesn’t count the motorcycle accident. As much as I love number 7 I can’t remember the last time he made it through 16 games without limping or some sort of injury. When he went out last year Leftwich came in for a few plays until he fell and broke something… again. If this were two hand tap Leftwich would be in the hall of fame. Then C.B. plays mediocre and we win a game or two highlighted by crying on the sideline after a win that wasn’t the superbowl. But all in all not bad for a number three QB. This off season we sign Gradkowski, can he win a game or two or take over if something happens to Ben, the short answer if it is some sort of fog bowl and the defense gives up 50 yards than maybe. Really, seriously we would have better chance bringing back Terry Bradshaw or find out if Kordell Stewart is in shape. Signing Landry gives the Steelers a viable back up, someone who at least we don’t know will fail. Is he as good as Ben no. Could he be? Probably not but maybe. He is the first back up since Dennis Dixon who has had potential upside. If Ben plays the next five seasons and doesn’t miss a game, it’s a win win. If he can’t at least we have someone under the age of 50 who can throw the ball further than 40 yards without the wind at their back.

    • Thanks for reading… As I’ve stated, I have no problem with the Steelers choosing a young QB in this draft. I would have prefered it to be in the 6th or 7th round however. It frustrates me that they talk about needing to draft guys who can contribute and make an impact but then they literally waste a pick on a guy who more than likely will never see the field. This same thing could have been accomplished by drafting Tyler Bray in the seventh round.

  6. I’ve got a couple of problems with this article. First, the author seems to believe the Steelers could have acquired a QB of comparable skill to Landry Jones in the 6th or 7th round. I disagree with this assessment. There were no QB’s of similar talent to Jones in those rounds. Heck, I’m not sure there is a better QB in the entire draft. We are very lucky to get Landry Jones, especially in the 4th round.
    To compare Tyler Bray to Landry Jones is just silly. Look at Bray’s games, not just his highlights. He throws the ball up in the air for grabs. Because he had Cordarrelle Patterson (29th pick) and Justin Hunter (34th pick), Bray very often got bailed out. Jones, on the other hand, had to break in 3 new WR on his team this year, and yet managed to throw for over 4,000 yards and 25 TD. He is a very smart player with a boat load of experience. He can make any throw and can fit the ball in the tightest of spaces. He is a quick decision-maker and the ball just jets out of his hand. His only problems are that he lacks good footwork–to avoid pressure and sacks– and that he tries to do to much, which leads him to force things.
    Second, the author seems to believe the Steelers were better served by using their 4th round pick on the OL or a WR, someone to make Big Ben’s “life easier”. He claims the Steelers wasted a pick on a player that “will not even see the filed.” However, there is also absolutely no guarantee that any of the OL or WR still available in the 4th round were talented enough to see the field for us this season, had any of them been selected instead of Jones.
    I am, of course, of the opinion that none of the OL or WR still available in the 4th round had that kind of talent. As a result, I feel that Landry Jones was the better pick and investment. If you can’t add players to protect Roethlisburger nor weapons for him to use, then you might as well add a super talented back up QB. With Big Ben’s penchant for injury, it would not be shocking to see Jones get some playing time next season. And, even if the only playing time Jones sees this year is in the preseason, he may prove to be a valuable asset. If he impresses in preseason, the Steelers will have a player for which other teams would be willing to trade valuable draft picks.

    • Thanks for reading Lawrence… I’m not comparing Jones’talent to that of Bray at all. My core issue with the drafting of Jones is the spot they chose to draft a QB period. You’re right, I can’t predict if an OL or WR or any other player will make an impact in the 4th round but selecting a QB in hopes that he may be valuable for more picks down the road is pointless to me. What if he turns out to be terrible in the preseason? The draft is a crap shoot as evidenced by recent drafts for the Steelers. The are no guarantees but the front office can’t sit there and tell us it’s important to find players who can contribute and then take a guy who ‘might’ be worth some picks if he plays well in the preseason. I don’t want to hear anyone complaining about depth if Jones isn’t the back-up QB. It will have been a wasted pick if he is the third QB.

      Selecting another position is not about making Ben’s life easier, it’s about making the offense better and protecting your $100 million investment.

  7. disrespecting Ben, what’s wrong with you, you have NO IDEA how any of these guys will preform in the NFL, and if Ben is worried about Landry Jones then that’s his problem. Since drafting Ben there has been 0 competition in the QB reserves, maybe it’s time Ben pay’s attention to players that want his job

    • Seriously? A three-time Super Bowl QB is worried about Jones? You really think at this point in Ben’s career he needs ‘competition’ for his job? Bottom line is none of us have any idea how any draft pick will perform but choosing Jones in the fourth was wasted pick. We had plenty of other needs to fill but chose not to.

  8. I like the pick. Consider this: Ben will be a free agent in 2016…a 34 year old free agent with a significant history of injuries. If he is still able to play, he could be re-signed. If he’s not, Jones is smart, has a great arm, and is Oklahoma’s all-time leader in passing yards. I think Jones was taken in the 4th round because other teams were interested in him AND because they’re looking at him as Ben’s eventual replacement. He’s a guy who can learn from both Ben and Gradkowski for the next three years, make some spot starts and/or come in for some reps in the 2nd half, and then he’s ready to lead this team when Ben is done. If Ben can still play at 34, great – but I think the high ankle sprains and concussions are more concerning to team management than they are to the rest of us. I think they know what #7’s shelf life is and they are planning for the worst. What if Jones doesn’t pan out? There’s always next year’s draft to find Ben’s replacement. I don’t see a downside to drafting Jones, and I think that expecting Ben to play until he’s 37 or 38 is too optimistic. I like the guy, I love what he’s done for the organization, but I’m a realist. I think the Steelers are being realistic by drafting him.

  9. Landry Jones was a complete surprise even to Landry Jones! The Steelers kept Batch and Leftwich waaaayyyyy too long. Ben keeps getting hurt and it’s not always the O line’s fault. He’s at his best when he’s out of the pocket and that seems to be when he gets hurt most of the time. With last year’s draft picks on the line they should be more solid up front, not only in pass protection but also in the running game. The Steelers weren’t going to get a top of the line guard or tackle in this draft. Better to draft someone like Jones and then start to add depth next year and the year after to protect the “new” franchise QB. Jones v. Bray? Anyone can look like an all-star if he has the right tools. Bray had the receivers. Jones had to make the receivers thus having a little bit of an off year in 2012. We’ll see how good Geno Smith REALLY is once he starts for the Jets without Austin, the best player in the draft, and Stedman.

  10. Don’t like the pick…I’m a little tired of the organization catering to Ben needs..Ben Roethlisberger and Landry Jones have some type of friendship…Keep in mind Ben little sister and Jones wife both played on the oklahoma sooners women basketball team (HUMMMMM)…THIS PICK WAS BEN PICK!!!! Keep in mind he insist we keep Emmanual Sanders…

    • Thanks for reading Mitch… I don’t think this was Ben’s pick put I do see your point. The Steelers often like familiarity to a fault. They consistently bring in guys who are from the area and while that is nice, they aren’t always the best available. I think this pick is more about Ben’s comfort than him actually wanting Jones.

  11. I don’t see this as a head scratcher at all. First of all, Gradkowski can sling the football. He torched ua once when wtih the Raiders remember? His problem has been injuries. He is a timing passer, system qb and I think that’s why the Steelers got him. He fits our new passing game.

    Laundry set records passing and can mature on the sidelines watching Ben run the offense. He’s a big strong armed QB and I think it was a very nice pickup. Ben knows why they got him and we need a replacement for the future. He could come in 5 to 7 years from now if it works out and possibly offer a smooth transition.

    • Thanks for reading Milliken… I think you help make my argument against Jones for me. Gradkowski is a guy that can indeed come in and throw the football and under Haley, he would do it less and with a higher opportunity for efficiency which he could use. Had he not be added, I would have been able to see the selection of Jones as much more viable. Jones has a lot of experience under his belt for sure but I think we are still a year or two away from starting to find Ben’s replacement.

  12. If you look at areas that held us back from the play offs, they were lack of an elite RB, safeties getting hurt, lack of pass rush, OL getting hurt, and a QB who has been unhealthy the later part of the season for the past 2 years. Except for backup OL and quality ILB, we addressed those needs. We need a young QB, to develop, who will be a high quality, young player, who can help the team win when Ben is hurting late in the season, rather than watch Ben try to make throws that his body won’t allow. Laundry Jones was a good pick.

  13. I don’t have alot to say Steeldad, but I think your reading to much into the pick. I’m sure the Steelers guessed that there were plenty of people they would be able to sign as Free agents #1. #2 i dont think in terms of a 4th round pick, they over paid for Jones. I think its time to get rid of our current journymen and get some new ones. Jones had a very productive college career and i think getting him at the 4 spot is a bargin. The steelers will not solve all of their problems in 1 draft anyway.

    • Thanks for reading Jesse… It definitely wouldn’t be the first time I’ve over-analyzed something that’s for sure. I certainly agree that upgrades to our back-up QBs were in order but I just didn’t think it needed to be addressed that early in this particular draft. Had Gradkowski not been brought in I might be more willing to agree with the use of the fourth round pick.

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