Pittsburgh Steelers: It’s hard to tell if considering Lamar Jackson is real

TALLAHASSEE, FL - OCTOBER 21: Quarterback Lamar Jackson
TALLAHASSEE, FL - OCTOBER 21: Quarterback Lamar Jackson /

Everyone and their mother seems to believe that quarterback, Lamar Jackson, has made his way to the top of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ draft board. But no one has any idea if that’s true.

When you read anything on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2018 NFL Draft considerations, you find inside linebacker, safety and Lamar Jackson. Not quarterback. Not “preparing for the future.” Just, Lamar Jackson.

Which is great. Jackson is one of the most promising athletes the NFL has seen in years. Being compared to Deshaun Watson, Jackson has gone from undersized runner to future Pro Bowler in a few short weeks.

Pittsburgh would be lucky to have him learn behind Ben Roethlisberger the next three years while he prepares to take over. It’d solve any concerns about replacing the future Hall of Famer, and would keep everyone excited about the future in the Steel City.

Yes, the consideration of Jackson appears to be real for the Steelers. During the combine, they met with him and from his workouts, they should be impressed. On the cusp of a Super Bowl, though, using the 28th pick in the draft of a future quarterback over filling the void of Ryan Shazier may not be the smartest decision.

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Pittsburgh could be looking towards the future, and rightfully so, but it’s Pittsburgh. When was the last time they made a business decision for three years down the road? Never.

Heck, if Le’Veon Bell wasn’t threatening to sit out a year they probably wouldn’t even be thinking about working out a deal this offseason.

Maybe Jackson is different, though. Maybe, just maybe, Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin see something in this kid that’s forcing their hand.

So far, this team has interviewed a number of inside linebackers, tight ends and even a defensive lineman. Looking at numbers as a whole, it’s hard to say Pittsburgh is focused on drafting a quarterback this offseason. But only interviewing one quarterback stands out.

If the Steelers really weren’t worried about finding the next Big Ben this year, they wouldn’t have interviewed anyone. There’s five first round quarterbacks all looking to be future Hall of Famers. Heck, judging from everything they’ve done in college, any one of them would step into Pittsburgh and take this team anywhere they wanted to go.

Which is exactly why only paying attention to Jackson stands out. This team could just sit around and wait for whomever is available at No. 28 and they’ll get Pro Bowl talent. No matter what position, the Steelers could find a guy who’s looking at a phenomenal career.

But if Lamar Jackson is the only quarterback they’re considering, in a draft filled with All-American linebackers, he needs to be pretty special.

Then, you look at their free agent offseason plans. Right now, the team has roughly $18 million in free cap space. Imagine somewhere near $16 million will be handed to Le’Veon Bell, leaving $2 million to work with.

After cutting Mike Mitchell, which is expected, the team will have somewhere near $7 million to use in free agency. That might not sign a Pro Bowl safety and linebacker, but it could easily sign one of the two.

If they’re sitting at the end of the first round with one of their two defensive needs filled and Jackson on the board, it’ll definitely be a consideration. One that could leave Pittsburgh with no way out of picking him.

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It’s a guess, though. No one has any idea how serious anyone is on Lamar Jackson. But it needs to be assumed that the Steelers are considering him in the first round.

Just how much is the real question.