It looks like Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger healthy and ready to go, but here’s why Pittsburgh could use a quarterback in the 2021 draft.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who missed most of 2019 after a Week 2 injury against the Seattle Seahawks, recently posted a video of himself throwing to teammates on Twitter.
It feels good to have Ben back out there with his guys, but the elephant in the room is his age. Roethlisberger is 38 years old. His fellow draftees, Eli Manning and Philip Rivers, are retired and moved on from Los Angeles, respectively. Sure, Tom Brady is even older and still going strong in Tampa, but it may be wise for the Steelers to look at a quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence and Ohio State’s Justin Fields are the obvious targets everyone drools over. The Steelers are too good to land one of those two unless they intentionally ‘tanked for Trevor’ or ‘failed for Fields’ – something that they have no intention of doing. I’m not advocating that. But there are other quarterback prospects to keep an eye on if and when college football returns this fall.
Even if Ben doesn’t give up the reins immediately, drafting his successor before his career ends allows Roethlisberger to mentor the young quarterback and hopefully foster a seamless transition like the Green Bay Packers had from Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers.
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One that catches the eye is North Dakota State’s Trey Lance. North Dakota State may not be as glamorous as Ohio State or Clemson, but they’ve put quarterbacks in the NFL before (Philadelphia’s Carson Wentz) and have won a staggering 8 of the last 9 FCS championships.
The Steelers have a long history of looking outside the power conferences for talent. Roethlisberger himself played three years at Miami (OH), going 7-5 his first two years before leading the team to a 13-1 record in 2003, finishing 10th in the final AP poll.
James Harrison went to fellow MAC school Kent State, as did legendary linebacker Jack Lambert. And who can forget the most interesting part of any Sunday Night Football introduction? “Matt Feiler, Bloomsburg”
For Steelers fans far afield, Bloomsburg is a Division II school in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.
Back to Lance, the stat that pops out in his two years at NDSU so far is the interception column. He has yet to throw an interception at the collegiate level. Sure, he only threw one pass (complete for 12 yards) in 2018, but he had an impressive 2019, completing 192 of 287 pass attempts (66.9%) and throwing for 2,786 yards, 28 touchdowns, and no interceptions.
Lance, to date, only has one year of being the guy in Fargo, and I’m not saying he’s already poised to fill Ben Roethlisberger’s big shoes. But he’s a guy to keep an eye on this football season, and if he declares for the draft after keeping up 2019’s production in 2000, the Steelers’ front office should consider bringing him to Pittsburgh to learn from a legend.