One of the things that seems to appeal to people most around this time of year, and heading into the summer, is hearing from the young draft prospects and rookies, learning about their journey to the NFL. The league is obviously aware of this, which is why they have the Path to the Draft series.
One of the draft prospects featured this year is quarterback Patrick Mahomes, and considering that he was recently in for a visit with the Pittsburgh Steelers earlier this week, it should be no surprise that the story of the player and the team intersected in the latest installment of the draft special.
In an interview, Mahomes recalled that he had a surprise visitor interrupt his hours-long film session that he was partaking in at the team’s UPMC Rooney Sports Complex during his visit. It was Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, whose discussion this offseason about his future is the impetus for the team looking more extensively at quarterbacks than at any point since they drafted the two-time Super Bowl champion.
“I was there watching film, for about two hours, and he walked in just to say ‘hi’”, Mahomes said of his encounter with the future Hall of Famer. “There wasn’t much to it, but that was the most exciting thing of the trip for me. I look at him, and I try to play with the same toughness”.
It is quite a realistic possibility that the Steelers will add another player to their quarterback room in this draft, based on comments made from a variety of members of their decision-making personnel. If so, he will be getting the opportunity to learn from Roethlisberger.
“He’s going to be a Hall of Famer, he’s been to Super Bowls., that’s the guy you want to be like”, said Mahomes. “Hopefully I’ll get to learn from him some day”. Realizing that there is an odds-on shot that they may not happen, the first-round hopeful added, “Maybe I’ll end up competing against him”.
It wasn’t just a one-quarterback deal for Roethlisberger, however. Jeremy Fowler also said that he stopped in to meet Josh Dobbs as well while he was visiting at the Steelers’ facility on Monday, the same day that they had in Mahomes. It appears as though the 35-year-old intends to be a hands-on factor in the search for another quarterback, in whatever form that may take.
But that doesn’t mean he isn’t still looking out for himself. Aditi Kinkhabwala adds that Roethlisberger “is lobbying hard for more offensive targets”, and when you consider the ammunition that the team have invested in the defensive side of the ball over recent drafts, you really can’t blame him.
The earliest a skill-position player was drafted last year by Pittsburgh was the seventh round. The Steelers did take wide receiver Sammie Coates in the third round and tight end Jesse James in the fifth during the 2015 NFL Draft. In 2014, they took Martavis Bryant in the fourth round at wide receiver. 2013 saw the additions of running back Le’Veon Bell and wide receiver Markus Wheaton in the second and third rounds. But most of their resources lately have gone to the other side of the field.