There 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 by 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.