While the Pittsburgh Steelers were able to coax out of Ben Roethlisberger a three-year commitment to continue to play through the 2021s season—with the help of tens of millions of dollars—that doesn’t mean the team has suddenly stopped evaluating the quarterback position behind him.
They have three young quarterbacks on the roster now behind the 37-year-old veteran, one added in each of the past three years. Roethlisberger’s incumbent backup is Joshua Dobbs, a fourth-round selection in 2017, and they drafted Mason Rudolph in the third round last season. Devlin Hodges was signed following an invitation to try out at rookie minicamp earlier this spring, unseating Brogan Roback for the fourth spot on the depth chart, and he has been drawing attention to himself since then.
Following practice earlier today, the last practice open to the public at Saint Vincent College, Roethlisberger spoke to reporters about a number of topics. In the middle of the scrum, he was asked to assess the quarterback position behind him, and Hodges in particular. “I think all the guys had a great showing” in the first preseason game, he said. “Each one did something kind of a little different, and intriguing. Josh made plays with his feet. Mason had some really good pocket movement and making some good throws”.
“Duck is just slinging it, and it’s fun to watch”, he said of Hodges, whose nickname is Duck. “He’s kind of fearless out there. The first delay of game, we were kind of like, ‘it’s just nerves and jitters’. I think you’re gonna continue to see growth from all of them, and him especially as a young guy. Small school, undrafted. It’s fun to see guys like that succeed”.
An undersized rookie out of small-school Samford, Hodges came to the Steelers having set a new FCS record for passing yards, and threw 111 touchdowns collegiately. His 26 snaps in the first preseason game are already more than the average amount of snaps the fourth quarterback typically sees for the entire preseason, and Mike Tomlin has already said that they intend to play him again tomorrow night.
With all that said, there is still a long way for the young man to go before he can really put himself in the conversation for a roster spot. Most likely, there is only so much that he can do on his own to get ahead, and he will probably have to see Dobbs struggle from this point forward to have a real chance of making the team.
Still, he is being given the opportunity to put quality reps on tape, and that could lead to opportunities for him, whether the Steelers keep him (on the 53 or the practice squad), or they manage to trade him, or if another team simply picks him up after he is waived.