Steelers Third String QB: Competition Heating Up


The competition for 3rd string quarterback is heating up, or at least swelling up. There are a lot of options at this point but it’s not clear who will end up on top. It’s been a few years since the Steelers had a 3rd string quarterback who fans and coaches would be comfortable seeing under center, maybe even a second string quarterback.

Luckily, we haven’t had to face that fear over the last few -years thanks to Ben staying healthy, Todd Haley’s offense focusing on quick passes, and the development and investment in the offensive line. It’s still better safe than sorry though.

Well, let’s assume Gradkowski is safe at number 2 at this point since no one is safe at number 3. Let’s run down the contenders.

Landry Jones was drafted in 2013 in the 4th round. They intended him to be the eventual number 2 and even talk of grooming him to take over for Ben some day. It’s not gone as planned.

Jones is still stuck at 3, and barely hanging on, as evidenced by all the quarterbacks they brought in this year. He’s gotten a lot of snaps over the past few preseasons and has not been successful. Beyond not winning, and beyond not having good stats, he does not look comfortable out there.

  • Tajh Boyd, 2nd year

Boyd was a 6th round pick last year for the Jets. He was cut last year and picked up by the Steelers early this offseason. Kind of uneventful. His college career was much more exciting.

He had a great college career in Clemson. He became the ACC all-time leader in passing yard and touchdowns, with 11904 yds and 107 TDs. He ran for 1164 yds and 26 TDs as well. Boyd played with Martavis Bryant at Clemson too so that helps. On the other hand, it also, along with Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins, means he had a pretty easy job throwing the ball at Clemson.

  • Devin Gardner, rookie

The Patriots signed him as an undrafted free agent earlier this year as a WR. They cut him and the Steelers picked him up. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has reported that in Pittsburgh he’s, at least for now, back under center. He’s been in the room with QBs and of the move Tomlin told Ed Bouchette of the Post-Gazette, “We’re just turning over stones.”

Gardner had a great career at Michigan. It was a tumultuous time and the team as a whole had hit a rough patch relative to their proud history. He had two coaches whose tenures did not go particularly well. But it was Gardner who held it all together. Gardner was tough, talented, and truly a leader for the team. He says he’s willing to play anywhere that will get him on the field. We’ll see if that’s QB.

  • Tyler Murphy, rookie

Tyler Murphy was part of the big group of undrafted free agents the Steelers brought in after the draft. Originally, he came to Florida as a fairly unheralded prospect. He got some playing time after the starter got injured and showed he was a player. They got a couple upsets and then hit a tough losing streak.

He transferred to Boston College and led them to a winning record highlighted by a big upset over #9 USC. An undrafted free agent QB in a crowded field. You could in most scenarios feel safe in thinking he will not make the roster. This is not most scenarios, it’s a wide open field.

Those are our contenders. Ready, set, go.

Next: Will Steelers Restructure or Extend Timmons' Contract

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