Despite the lackluster play from the quarterbacks last season, the Steelers chose not to address the position in the 2020 NFL Draft.
With Ben Roethlisberger sidelined for most of 2019, you can make a case that the worst position on the field for the Steelers was quarterback. Ben suffered an elbow injury that would cost him his season in Week 2 against the Seattle Seahawks.
While the team seems optimistic that he will return healthy, can they really afford to take that kind of gamble? After all, an elbow injury is what ended Terry Bradshaw’s career.
Roethlisberger is reportedly throwing the football, but only in light sessions per his interview with the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. It’s unclear how the elbow will feel once he puts more velocity on his throws and ultimately the wear and tear of a full NFL season.
It’s not as if Roethlisberger was coming off his best season in 2018 either. According to Pro Football Focus, it was his lowest graded season since 2008. At age 38, it’s more likely that he will continue to decline than come back the same or better than when he went down.
Both Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges could not consistently push the ball down the field last season resulting in an offense that ranked 31st in passing yards per game, ahead of only the Washington Redskins.
Rudolph did finish with 13 touchdowns to only 9 interceptions in 10 games, which includes 8 starts, but was aided by having over 57% of his yards coming after the catch according to Pro Football Focus. That mark was the highest in the league by far. PFF also gave Rudolph a grade of 53. Which is second to last among the qualifying quarterbacks.
Hodges was even worse, with only 5 touchdowns, 8 interceptions, and averaging 132 yards per game in the 8 games, 6 of them starts. Pro Football Focus gave Hodges a 45.8 grade. A grade for a player who should be easily replaceable on the Steelers roster.
So how could they really be that confident in the most important position on the football field? It’s not like they didn’t have the opportunity. Jalen Hurts was available when the Steelers went on the clock at pick 49. I would argue that he is an immediate upgrade over Hodges and Rudolph right now simply for his playmaking ability.
It’s possible they feel the answer is in free agency. According to BucsReport.com’s Nick Sitro, Pittsburgh had made an offer to Jameis Winston. If true, it means that the Steelers are indeed looking for some insurance behind Roethlisberger.
There have been other veteran backups here before. Some of the most notable being Charlie Batch, Byron Leftwich, and even Michael Vick. A point can be made that this is the year that they may need it the most.
I, like everyone else, hope that Ben is healthy and productive in 2020, but if he cannot last the full season, the quarterbacks currently on the roster are not going to cut it.