With game two of the preseason in the past, the Pittsburgh Steelers are starting to shape their roster into more of what it will look like when the August 31st cut-down rolls around. I have to believe that as part of that ‘roster shaping,’ Quarterback Josh Dobbs will be one of the key components. I have been told that there could be interest from a few teams and that the Steelers may be interested in trading him. If that isn’t accurate, it should be.
First Off, Why Move Dobbs?
The former fifth round pick is in his third season with the Steelers. While I have seen him look more confident with his play and the offense in general, I still see many of the same problems that have plagued him dating back to his college days at Tennessee. I’ll get into those below but as to the question, Dobbs is highly athletic for a quarterback and most NFL teams prize that with a backup quarterback.
It allows them to run their offense but at the same time offers them opportunities to add wrinkles in an effort to keep the defense honest and from assuming the backup will be “just another backup.” As teams across the league start to refine their rosters, there’s no doubt that Dobbs could be in a situation to battle for a backup spot in several different cities. If I’m Kevin Colbert and the Steelers, I’ve already done my homework as to who those teams might be.
The one thing you don’t want to do is cut him on August 31st and get nothing for him. Therefore you need to be willing to accept a sixth or seventh round pick and I think that’s exactly what Colbert will do. To expect anything more than that is asking way too much in my opinion. Remember, Dobbs has appeared in two regular season games as a backup with a total of ten throws.
Another reason you move him is because of the rise of Devlin Hodges. He was just two for four last night but also threw a touchdown pass for the second straight week. He has surprisingly good command of the offense for a fourth QB and if you look around the NFL, he’s as capable as any other third QB right now. Putting him on the practice squad would be very risky as the chances someone would scoop him up would be high.
How Did We Get Here With Dobbs?
The issues I alluded to above are these… Dobbs continues to struggle to get through his progressions. I constantly see him take a snap, take one look then another and off he goes. This is something you can often get away with at the college level because defenders aren’t nearly as good as they are in the NFL at adjusting to plays that break down. This also affects offensive linemen and receivers mentally. If they know the play is likely to break down sooner than it should they tend to do things differently. Imagine a third or fourth receiving option on any given play for instance. If I know he isn’t going to look my way will my effort be the same? It should but we are all human after all.
As was pointed out on our Twitter feed last night, Dobbs still is at his best when he can drop back and sling the ball at a high rate of speed. When he has to deliver a pass with touch it often goes awry. In the last two games he’s completed deep balls to James Washington. In both of those occasions, Dobbs under-threw Washington who made superb adjustments to make the catches. Arguably, if those balls are thrown out in front of Washington they were likely touchdowns.
Then there’s the accuracy which troubled him last night especially on his Red Zone interception. Accuracy is an absolute must in any part of the field but down inside your opponent’s 20-yard line it’s paramount. Dobbs’ saw the receiver break open but his throw was way off and an easy interception.
Why Trade for Him Then?
If Dobbs has these shortcomings that I’ve pointed out then why would a team trade for him? Good question but first of all, Dobbs is a really smart young man. He’s going to be able to pick up a new offense quicker than most other guys you bring in. Secondly (as I mentioned above) the athleticism is prized by most teams when looking for a backup. Lastly, is that he does have some experience. It isn’t a lot but it’s more than many other QBs across the league. Lastly, you hope to strike gold. If by giving up a sixth or seventh round pick solidifies your entire QB room for the next few years then the trade would have been worth it.
I’ll be very surprised, barring injury to Mason Rudolph or Hodges, if Dobbs is still on the roster in September.