Should we? Shouldn’t we?
As in, should the Pittsburgh Steelers expend one of their precious picks in the 2018 NFL Draft for a potential quarterback of the future?
For readers of the Spin, you already know what answer to expect from this column. I have been advocating for the past couple of the years that the Steelers use their ENTIRE draft, if necessary, on picking quarterbacks until one comes up smelling like roses.
The math is as simple as it gets: Ben Roethlisberger is 36 years old.
Now. No one is more pleased with Big Ben’s dispelling of the “retirement” talk for hopefully a few more years. With his style of play and the caliber of the offensive line protecting him there is no reason to doubt he could be effective for three more years.
But. He’s 36 years old.
And drafting a franchise quarterback is both one of the most difficult tasks in the game, and the most quintessentially important.
The rule changes of the NFL in the past decade continue to elevate the importance of the quarterback position well above any other.
In other words, it’s the same philosophy as chess. Would you draft an available Queen or a really, really good Rook, Bishop or Knight?
If you’re planning on singing “We Are The Champions” anytime soon, it’s Queen, Queen and more Queens.
For those of us who suffered through the intolerable 1980’s as Steelers fans, this is not rocket science.
It’s just as Bob Marley was singing at the time, “No Quarterback, No Pride…” or something like that.
The 90’s? It was the supreme tease. Great…great…great…defense and running game, but cue Bob again…“No Quarterback, No Pride.”
No. The gaping gap between the retirement of Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw after the 1983 season and the arrival of Big Ben in 2004 had Steelers Nation suffering through more than two decades of bone creaking, sweat oozing, Lombardi withdrawals.
Imagine if the Steelers front office had incorporated the patented Spin Strategy of Franchise Quarterback Draft ‘Em Until You Got ‘Em during those dismal times, instead of using the positional need approach that is still being clamored for this year.
Let’s glance in the crystal ball, my little pretty, through the lens of Steelers NFL draft history:
PRE-ROETHLISBERGER DARK AGES
AVAILABLE: Dan Marino (1983) First Round
STEELERS CHOOSE: Gabe Rivera (NT)
AVAILABLE: Boomer Esiason (1984) Second Round
STEELERS CHOOSE: Louis Lipps (WR)
AVAILABLE: Randall Cunningham (1985) Second Round
STEELERS CHOOSE: Darryl Simms (DE)
AVAILABLE: Brett Favre (1991) Second Round
STEELERS CHOOSE: Huey Richardson (LB)
AVAILABLE: Mark Brunell (1993) Fifth Round
STEELERS CHOOSE: Deon Figures (CB), Chad Brown (LB), Andre Hastings (WR), Kevin Henry (DE)
AVAILABLE: Tom Brady (2000) Sixth Round
STEELERS CHOOSE: Plaxico Burress (WR), Marvel Smith (T), Kendrick Clancy (DT), Hank Poteat (DB), Danny Farmer
(WR), Clark Haggans (LB) & Tee Martin (QB)
AVAILABLE: Drew Brees (2001) Second Round
STEELERS CHOOSE: Casey Hampton (NT)
AVAILABLE: Dak Prescott (2016) Fourth Round
STEELERS CHOOSE: Artie Burns (CB), Sean Davis (S), Javon Hargrave (DT), Jerald Hawkins (T)
AVAILABLE: Derek Carr (2014) or Jimmy Garoppolo (2014) in Second Rounds
STEELERS CHOOSE: Ryan Shazier (LB), Stephon Tuitt (DE)
It’s an old habit of Steelers fans to wonder the big “What If?” of missing the chance to pick up local boy and Hall of Famer Dan Marino.
But can you imagine how much of an impact it would have been if the Steelers had picked up Boomer or Randall in the 80’s or Favre or even Brunell in the 90’s?
Louis Lipps was a fabulous pick in 1984. He filled a need at the time like no other. But, having Esiason or Cunningham instead of Cliff Stoudt, Mark Malone, Todd Blackledge or Bubby Brister? C’mon.
And to think we chose Huey Richardson over Favre?
We all love the pick of Big Snack in 2001 as he filled a tremendous need at the time for a team requiring major beef for their 3-4 defense. But, instead of future Hall of Famer Drew Brees?
Now. There is no question there is a great deal of cherry picking going on here to look back at the misses in hindsight.
Teams had to kiss a lot of frogs to get these princes.
But that’s the point. You need a bushel of cherries to find your next franchise quarterback. That only happens if you do a lot of picking.
Plus, quarterbacks hold a great deal of trading value. So, keep the best and trade the rest. There you can you fill your needs in Rooks, Bishops and Knights while securing future Super Bowl checkmates for years to come.
There is NO greater need than for the Steelers to get the heir apparent to Big Ben.
It is an act of pure historical ignorance to believe the team can wait for him to retire in a future February and that we’ll have him easily replaced in the following April.
Am I really advocating using every draft pick for quarterbacks until Big Ben moves onto golfing pastures?
No. The Steelers should only draft quarterbacks they rate as high probability picks.
But, until the next potential, future Hall of Famer, carry the team for the next two decades player is firmly on the roster…the Steelers must never pass on a great quarterback prospect until the task is completed.
Whatever round…and how ever many rounds it takes.