No matter how good your team may be doing, there will always be a vocal cross-section of the fan base that, at any given point during the season, is already looking at who their favorite team should be drafting the following spring.
The Pittsburgh Steelers fan base is certainly no exception, and, though they finally went 11-5 and won their division, even the most diehard fan could not deny that the organization has some holes to fill.
While the offense improved, and is on an upward trajectory, there are still tweaks to be made, and successors to be found. The defense has struggled, and is switching coordinators, which may call for a slightly different type of player.
So we’ll take a look at the Steelers roster position by position in the early offseason to determine how each group stacks up in terms of draft need. We might as well start at the top with the quarterbacks, which features the same group as the past two seasons.
Ben Roethlisberger: Coming off statistically the best season of his career. He threw for nearly 5000 yards and tied his own team record with 32 touchdown passes while trimming down on the interceptions. He showed great leadership in reeling in a young offense around him, particularly some of the inexperienced wide receivers, which he will continue to develop and improve into the next season. Extending him is about as no-brainer as it gets.
Bruce Gradkowski: Spent his entire first season in Pittsburgh holding a clipboard. He finally got to play just a bit this past season just to remind people that he’s still around and that he could possibly get the Steelers through a stretch if need be without Roethlisberger. He entered the Wildcard game facing a third and really long and converted with two completed passes, then nearly hit his tall receiver in the end zone for a touchdown from distance on the next play. He’s entering the final year of his three-year contract.
Landry Jones: The new scapegoat. Keeping him on the roster is the reason the Steelers ended up losing your favorite player, of course, even though Jones can clearly do nothing at all, in the minds of many fans. Of course, some beat writers jested that his practice interceptions helped boost the confidence of the secondary. He has two years left on his rookie contract.
Draft Strategy: It goes without saying that the Steelers are not in the market for a starting quarterback. They are one of the fortunate teams who already have one. Gradkowski seems like he may be a stable backup, although he isn’t a spritely young player, and he also has one year left on his contract. Jones certainly doesn’t look like he’s going to develop suddenly in year three.
While it can be argued that the Steelers could use a different third quarterback, there are many who question the value of drafting quarterbacks after the first couple of rounds, as almost none of them ever develop into anything, with rare exceptions such as those two who just played in the Super Bowl.
The Steelers found success in the past using veteran free agents as their backups. It may also be time to consider carrying only two quarterbacks on the roster. This is not a draft need, but you can never rule out the Steelers taking a fifth-round flyer on somebody.