I think pretty much everybody here writing on the site have more or less gone on record as not being in favor of drafting a mid-to-late-round quarterback this year, including myself, and I have already stated that I would have preferred that the Pittsburgh Steelers used their fourth-round pick on somebody other than quarterback Joshua Dobbs.
What’s done is done, however, and it’s time to move on. And while I may be highly skeptical about the odds of Dobbs being able to develop into some type of quality long-term starter in the league, I do believe that he has positive traits that could make him an asset to this team as a reserve.
One thing that I’m pretty sure attracted the Steelers to Dobbs, aside from his intelligence, is the fact that he ran an offense that is translatable to what Pittsburgh does, or at least elements of it. During his conference call, he talked about how the coaches put him through a film session and he came away from it identifying “similar plays and lingo I was familiar with…similar progressions”.
He also understands his position on the team while retaining his ambitions for more. When asked, he said to reporters, “I’m not trying to replace anyone”, a natural enough answer. He continued, “it’s definitely an amazing opportunity” to “learn as much as I can from a future Hall of Famer”.
“I am working and preparing like I am a starter, but also treating it as a learning opportunity so that whenever my number is called, I am ready to go, ready to play and ready to play at a high level”, he said.
This is all boiler-plate stuff for an entry-level pick, of course, but he does possess qualities that are difficult or impossible to teach. While his accuracy could use refinement—and could be modestly improved by tweaking his mechanics—his arm strength is impressive, and he used it often.
One quality that is nice to have in a backup quarterback, if you can find it in a player who is also capable of protecting the football, is mobility, and Dobbs has that in spades. He ran a sub-4-7 40-yard dash and ran for over 2000 yards and 32 touchdowns during his collegiate career. Of course, he also fumbled pretty frequently, and that’s something he knows he has to work on.
But I don’t think anybody can question his competitive nature. The Volunteers were not a very strong team often over the course of his tenure—if I recall correctly, not one player was drafted last year—but he still managed to win. I believe he had something like five or six comeback victories.
Another interesting statistic to consider is that, according to Pro Football Focus, Dobbs was one of the best quarterbacks in this draft class in terms of performing under pressure, posting a 105.7 quarterback rating when under duress, doing so while facing one of the toughest defensive schedules in college football. Only Nathan Peterman posted a higher quarterback rating, and it should be considered that quarterback rating doesn’t factor in rushes.