Ben Roethlisberger has been a cut above the rest in the AFC North for over a decade. Here’s why the Steelers luck at quarterback may be changing soon.
During most of the 2000s, the Steelers had a glaring advantage over their AFC North rivals. Not only did the Steelers possess a stellar defense for many years, but their quarterback was also the best in the division for over a decade.
Unfortunately, the tides could turn against Pittsburgh very soon. The days of top-notch quarterback play from Ben Roethlisberger are dwindling fast, and may already be gone. In his place, new franchise quarterbacks are stepping up to be the best in the AFC North.
Though the Ravens were embarrassed by the Tennessee Titans in the playoffs, Lamar Jackson is one of the youngest starting quarterbacks in the league after an MVP caliber season. He’s a player who could give the Steelers fits for decades.
While Baker Mayfield took a clear step back in 2019, the former 1st overall pick will have a chance to redeem himself next season. If he proves doubters wrong and plays like he did in the back half of his rookie season, Pittsburgh could be in for some trouble.
Now, Steelers fans need to be concerned with a new face in the AFC North: Joe Burrow. The LSU quarterback is considered to be one of the best prospects we have ever seen at the position. After a stellar performance in the National Championship Game, Burrow is firmly locked in as the Bengals selection with the first overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
The Ravens, Browns, and Bengals starting quarterbacks appear to be set for the foreseeable future, and between Jackson, Mayfield, and Burrow, their average age is under 24 years old. Roethlisberger turns 38 years old this offseason and his throwing arm will go the better part of a year without seeing any game action.
It’s unclear how Roethlisberger will bounce back from season-ending surgery. Even if he makes a full recovery and plays like the quarterback he was before his injury, Pittsburgh at best has another two years with the future Hall of Famer before they are forced to look elsewhere for help at the position.
The Steelers are a good franchise that doesn’t like to lose. But part of finishing in the middle of the pack or higher nearly every season means that Pittsburgh could be missing out on top-end talent at the quarterback position.
With such limited draft capital in 2019, it’s highly unlikely that the Steelers find the future face of the franchise in the draft this April. Pittsburgh will most likely try to find their next franchise quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft – though there is certainly no guarantee that they would be successful.
Right now, Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges can’t hold a candle to any of the quarterbacks who will be patrolling the AFC over the next decade. While Ben may be able to keep pace with them for a year or two, the Steelers will need to find an answer at quarterback soon.
We learned just how important the quarterback position was this year. Despite Pittsburgh’s elite defense, their poor quarterback play allowed them to reach just a .500 record in the season. With the way things are shaping up in the AFC North, the Steelers could have the worst quarterback in the division in just a year or two.