Could practice squad QB knock Devlin Hodges off Steelers roster?

Devlin Hodges had his moments for the Steelers last season but fell out of favor in Pittsburgh. Could he be surpassed on the roster in 2020?

Last year was a nightmare on offense for the Steelers. After losing Ben Roethlisberger for the season all the way back in Week 2 against the Seattle Seahawks, things began to spiral out of control.

Mason Rudolph took over as the starter in Pittsburgh, but when he went down with a concussion against the Ravens in Week 5, Devlin Hodges took his place the following week against the Chargers. In his first NFL start, the drafted rookie free agent completed 15 of 20 passes and led the Steelers to a victory over Los Angeles on the west coast.

From there, ‘Duck’ Hodges quickly emerged as a fan favorite. Eventually, Hodges took over as the Steelers starter when Rudolph struggled against the Bengals in Week 11. While he was able to help his team to wins in the next two games, he fell out of favor late in the season – losing each of his last three contests 1 touchdown to just 6 interceptions over that span.

Hodges doesn’t have a lot of tools to work with. Though he showed solid mobility in the pocket, he’s an undersized passer with below-average velocity, spotty ball placement, and a relatively weak arm down the field. Though he could certainly improve with a year of experience under his belt, is he the best option as the Steelers third quarterback?

Currently on Pittsburgh’s roster at the position are Paxton Lynch and J.T. Barrett. Both were well-known players in college. Lynch ended up being a first-round draft choice by the Broncos while Barrett ended up going undrafted despite his very productive career at Ohio State.

Lynch has the physical tools you could hope for at the position. At 6’7” and 244 pounds, Lynch has elite size to see over the pocket and a massive arm to sling the ball down the field. However, he quickly fell out of favor in Denver. Last year, Lynch played two games for the Seahawks and nearly beat the Chiefs (24-27) in a game where he threw for 254 yards and 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.

Barrett doesn’t have the elite arm talent that Lynch possesses, but he’s a smart football player with good pocket mobility and a ton of college experience under his belt. Though he hasn’t suited up for a game in the NFL, Barrett earned 147 total touchdowns to just 30 interceptions during his college career.

Devlin Hodges’ spot on the Steelers roster should be far from secure. He was very underwhelming to close out the 2019 season, and he doesn’t offer enough traits to be a good developmental prospect. Lynch and Barrett are both more gifted athletes who could be nipping at his heels for an opportunity this training camp.

Next: 3 Steelers who must step up in the 2020 season

It will be very interesting to see how the backup quarterback situation players out. The Steelers have already declared Rudolph as Roethlisberger’s backup, but the spot for the third quarterback could be up for grabs.