The 2015 NFL Draft is passed and for the 7th time in 10 years, a quarterback was taken first overall. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers took the controversial Florida State Seminole quarterback Jameis Winston. As we find ourselves moving towards offseason training activities (OTAs) and soon enough NFL training camps, as sure as death and taxes, a number of analysts are going to compare Winston to the Pittsburgh Steelers franchise quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger.
It happens at least every other year now and you can put money on it for 2015. It’s a trend that really started gaining traction in 2009 when Tampa Bay took another quarterback, Josh Freeman, in the first round. Freeman was a big guy with a big arm who had some mobility and could shed defenders. Meanwhile, Big Ben was coming off his second Super Bowl win. At one point, some national media types even looked at Freeman as better than Roethlisberger, which is laughable in hindsight.
In 2011, Cam Newton drew a number of Roethlisberger comparisons (despite the fact that you’re not going to see Ben on too many read option runs). In 2012, Andrew Luck, while largely compared to Peyton Manning and John Elway due to his pedigree, backstory, and landing spot, was compared to Ben because of once again size, escapability, and arm talent. In 2013, there wasn’t really a quarterback of Roethlisberger’s mold.
In 2014, came the crown jewel of Roethlisberger doppelgangers in Blake Bortles. Of all the comparisons this had to be the closest one. Some of us at Steelers Depot have even referred to him as Bortlesberger. They have almost identical size. They both threw extremely well under pressure and flushed out of the pocket in college. Their college completion percentages were extremely close. They both played in less heralded schools but engineered a number of comeback victories. Bortles struggled mightily in his first year but didn’t have the offensive line, running game, or defense that Roethlisberger was gifted with in his first few years.
All that being said, there is only one Ben Roethlisberger. One could argue that Roethlisberger had quite the supporting cast in the first portion of his career but it’s hard to argue with his greatness when the Steelers have been to three Super Bowls, won two, and haven’t had a losing season since drafting the Ohio native. He’s been a quarterback who has evolved from playing in a backyard style more often than not to the kind of field general that people said he never could be.
Ben is the only player in NFL history to throw six touchdowns in consecutive weeks. He’s had three games with a perfect passer rating; two in the same season, which no other NFL QB has done. He’s got a career winning percentage of 67.1%, second only to Peyton Manning and Tom Brady among quarterbacks who have started at least 100 games. Roethlisberger holds virtually all the Steelers career and season passing records.
It could be looked at as a positive that analysts consistently want to compare players to Big Ben but there’s only one Ben Roethlisberger and Steeler Nation is happy to have him. The media and draft analysts should keep that in mind when the Roethlisberger comparisons to Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones start flowing during the college football season.