So much effort and attention has been invested into the quarterback battle for the Pittsburgh Steelers between Mitch Trubisky, Mason Rudolph, and rookie Kenny Pickett. There are certainly different camps, with many taking it as a given that nothing will prevent Trubisky from being the opening-day starter. That may prove to be true.
But it’s also true that there is another quarterback on the roster, that being seventh-round draft pick Chris Oladokun. The Steelers did invest not-insignificant resources to acquire him, even if they selected him with their last draft pick, but nevertheless, they didn’t get him for free—yet he’s yet to get a single rep in team drills.
And head coach Mike Tomlin doesn’t want him to be patient, either, but rather to look to a Steelers alumnus as an example, something he discussed with reporters after practice yesterday when addressing the rookie’s lack of opportunities:
When you’re quote-unquote in the ‘fourth quarterback’ slot, you better be continually working while you wait for your opportunity. This is not a patient man’s business. We’re not going to ask him to be patient. We will ask him to work while he waits.
We’ve had others in the past in that scenario. I talked to him a lot about Joshua Dobbs, who was in a similar scenario years ago. Didn’t get many opportunities. Stormed on at the finish and made the roster. So he has that as an example if he needs encouragement.
Dobbs was a fourth-round draft pick out of Tennessee in 2017. At the time of his selection, the Steelers had Ben Roethlisberger and Landry Jones as their top two quarterbacks, with Bruce Gradkowski having already been gone at that point. His only competition for the number three job was Bart Houston.
The following year is when he really had to battle, as the team decided to draft Rudolph in the third round, as a possible successor to Roethlisberger. It was presumed that Jones would remain as no worse than the number three, and even Roethlisberger openly questioned if the Dobbs pick was not a mistake in hindsight.
But he kept working, and he ultimately got on the roster—indeed, as the backup to Roethlisberger, unseating Jones altogether. The difference is, however, Dobbs was getting snaps. It was Jones who wasn’t getting playing time, the opportunity to defend his job.
So I’m not sure how great an example Dobbs is for Oladokun if he’s not even getting onto the field. Perhaps Tomlin is implying that he will get thrown in at the end of preseason games, but even then, there are only three now. It certainly feels as though, barring a trade, he doesn’t have much of a shot of making the team.
But we’ll have to wait and see how the next month plays out. We can afford to be patient. According to Tomlin, Oladokun cannot.