I want to go on the record as stating that I am not in support of the idea of the Pittsburgh Steelers using a first-round pick on a quarterback in the 2018 NFL Draft. I also want to go on the record as stating that I do not consider it an impossibility, nor do I think it would be outright ridiculous.
While I don’t want to see it happen, it would be denialism to suggest that there is no rationale in which it makes sense, especially in light of recent comments made by members of the Steelers’ front office alluding to an appreciation for the concept of a smooth transition at the quarterback position similar to Green Bay or San Francisco. (I assume you know which specific transitions are being alluded to.)
Bob Labriola made it pretty clear in which camp he resides. He not only is not in support of the idea of drafting a quarterback, he also finds the notion to be tomfoolery (not his word, though I’m sure one he would use).
He posted a column today beating down every possible notion or argument in favor of the drafting of a quarterback being a possibility, but I don’t find myself agreeing with many of them, or at the least I don’t find them to be clear-cut as implied.
Let’s just get the obvious out of the way in pointing out that Mason Rudolph is the most likely candidate if the Steelers do take a quarterback. They worked him out, they brought him in, and he might be available. And you’ve seen the way Mike Tomlin looks at him. I mean that literally. Just look at that picture above this article.
Labriola contends that drafting somebody like Rudolph “would mean that picking [Joshua] Dobbs in last year’s draft was a waste”. The problem is that he writes it as though it’s either not true or not possible. And before we get too far, let me just note that Labriola is only one of many who have been positing similar arguments. I’m just using his current article to work from, not singling him out.
The notion that the Steelers would pass on drafting a potential franchise quarterback because they don’t want to dump their second-year third-string quarterback is a rather silly one. Besides, they could try to keep him on the practice squad. Dobbs is not going to be part of the equation if they are considering drafting a quarterback in the first round. Period.
Another problem with drafting a quarterback is the supposition that Ben Roethlisberger will be playing at least three more seasons. Kevin Colbert and Art Rooney II have both said they’ve spoken to Roethlisberger about this. But this assumes that he won’t change his mind again, and assumes that he will still be at the top of his game two years from now.
So drafting Rudolph might mean that you only get to see him start in his fourth season, or even best-case in his third season. You might have just one season before you have to decide whether or not to pick up his fifth-year option.
But as the San Francisco 49ers have shown, if you think you might have a quarterback when you otherwise would not, you throw money at him when the time comes. That’s just the nature of the position.
Labriola also shared an anecdote about Terry Bradshaw not being particularly helpful to Mark Malone. The idea is that the notion of having an heir apparent in waiting isn’t very useful because the starter might not be very helpful in that transition. But Bradshaw was not exactly cerebral. I don’t see Roethlisberger as somebody shunning the role of teacher, which is actually something that he has done with Landry Jones and Dobbs.
I have no qualms in saying that Labriola is a better writer than I am and has a better feel for the Steelers than I do. He is a professional, after all. But this was not one of his better arguments. I don’t want them to draft a quarterback, but not because it’s simply a bad idea to do so.