Can Steelers find a franchise quarterback in Gardner Minshew’s successor?

TEMPE, ARIZONA - OCTOBER 12: Quarterback Anthony Gordon #18 of the Washington State Cougars looks to pass during the first half of the NCAAF game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium on October 12, 2019 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
TEMPE, ARIZONA - OCTOBER 12: Quarterback Anthony Gordon #18 of the Washington State Cougars looks to pass during the first half of the NCAAF game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium on October 12, 2019 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Searching for the answer on QB Ben Roethlisberger’s return, the Steelers 2019 season symbolized the franchise is in dire need of its future face.

Pittsburgh Steelers’ own longtime, acclaimed quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has created a bind within the organization. Recent mullings of retirement & age were pre-existing notifiers that the beginning to the end was near for Big Ben, but this injury is etching for the final chapters.

A major surgery that once handed optimism upon its completion for fans, recent reports suggest the timeline for rehab still remains an open-ended question. Hope can drive only so far, and we wish for a speedy recovery, but the plan within the Steelers organization has to begin for life without Roethlisberger.

Last year was a dreadful foreshadowing. Enough talent and potential to be in a playoff race, however, handicapped in cap space, Roethlisberger remaining a cap hit of 30+ million the next two years (without restructure), and without a first-round pick, the Steelers are going to have to get lucky.

Thankfully, this quarterback class has a more-than-typical amount of intriguing prospects behind its box office names. Before, we highlighted Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts as a potential prospect to don the Black & Gold, but now we shift to the pacific-northwest for Gardner Minshew’s successor & Mike Leach’s padawan, Anthony Gordon.

Games Watched: UCLA (2019), Washington (2019), Oregon (2019)

“Ahem…uh, Gordo?”

As reported by Matt Hayes of Bleacher Report, it would be the first words that Anthony Gordon would hear from Washington State head coach, Mike Leach. Surprisingly leading to his first college offer ever since graduating from Terra Nova High School in Pacifica, California, Gordon’s career was on a mild road. Just completing his second season in junior college at the City College of San Francisco, the name would still remain unknown for the next three years. “Ok, that’s going to take some getting used to”, Leach continued.

Unable to imagine the emotions of what possibly ran through the thoughts of Gordon, as he had to sit behind former Wazzu QBs Luke Falk & Gardner Minshew for such a period of time, his chance was not taken for granted.

Entering without experience in a power 5 conference, the one-year starter remained productive throughout the 2019 year though the team didn’t greatly succeed. Throwing for 5500+ yards along with 48 touchdowns to his 16 interceptions, Gordon & Leach was a pairing that caused problems for opposing defenses.

Completing 72% of his passes on a nation-leading 689 attempts, Gordon also averaged 8.1 yards per attempt (8.4 AY/A).  A high-powered affair, the quickness enabled by Leach dealt with a myriad of shifts & motions that resemble those in the NFL (or that resemble Leach himself).

The natural arm ability Gordon possesses & one of the quickest throwing releases anyone will ever see are things to fall in love with as a prospect. He drives the ball extremely well & is accurate, especially over the middle of the field & underneath, and has a respectable deep ball.

Noticeably they are only highlights but give a minor glimpse into the zip that was consistently behind Gordon’s throws. He progresses through his reads and has a hot hand similar to NBA SG Klay Thompson in game 6.

For Better or Worse

The unorthodoxy. Either as a thrower or what occurs when on the run, the unorthodoxy of Gordon is where his talent comes to a stalemate.

In the example above, Gordon was able to really just do that. As Jim Nagy states in the tweet, “QBs must be able to improvise” in a professional league where quarterbacks are used & at a need for more mobile purposes than ever before.

Somehow Gordon’s well above ball placement still exists within these types of throws, and it exposes something that’s he able to do often. With a baseball background, he can contort his arm in creative ways to still complete passes.

However, in very vague detail, this play exposes his biggest flaws. Against pressure, Gordon could improve greatly in how he manages the pocket & his decision-making. On this play, no one can be upset at what happens, but throughout the season and especially against Washington, a lot of his mistakes came while under duress.

Either leading to an errant INT with no receiver in the vicinity or the five fumbles on the season (two lost), it scratched heads asking “why”? Looking to always make something happen, it could help if the ball was thrown away at times or he continued to take what the defense gives him.

A Bet Worth Taking for the Steelers

Headlined by Joe Burrow, teams will have their fair share of options from the quarterback position in the 2020 NFL draft. Followed with Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert, Jordan Love, & Jalen Hurts to name a few, the newer generation of QBs in the NFL is set to grow greatly.

Next. Steelers 7-Round Mock Draft. dark

Like PAC-12 games themselves, Gordon will be the one to not receive the television time as some of the names listed above, but the record-breaker is due for his credit. Already improving in the small details & performing as one of the best in the 2020 Senior Bowl, the Steelers could be in store in finding Roethlisberger’s replacement for the future.