5 quarterbacks who could succeed Ben Roethlisberger for Steelers
A redshirt junior with an ideal build, Mac Jones has turned heads while leading Nick Saban’s offense this season.
Sharing a position room with two future early-round draft choices, Jones didn’t see meaningful snaps until his third year at Alabama. His first start, a 48-7 victory against Arkansas, was in relief of an ailing Tua Tagovailoa. Two games later, when the future Miami Dolphins signal-caller was carted off with a hip injury, Jones returned.
He hasn’t gotten the hook since. Jones started the Crimson Tide’s three remaining clashes in 2019, losing only in a back-and-forth contest against archrival Auburn in the Citrus Bowl.
He rang in the new year with a 35-16 triumph over Michigan in the Citrus Bowl, slinging the football for 327 yards and three touchdowns, including an 85-yard score to Jerry Jeudy on ‘Bama’s first offensive snap.
Although Jones’ job wasn’t certain entering the campaign—he had to hold off blue-chip recruit Bryce Young—he’s etched his name into Alabama lore with his body of work.
As of November 28, according to FiveThirtyEight, Mac Jones had the best season by total quarterback ranking out of any quarterback since at least 2004. His 95.5 QBR topped those of each Kyler Murray (95.4 in 2018), Joe Burrow (94.9 in 2019), and the aforementioned Tagovailoa (94.8 in 2019). Each of those three other quarterbacks were no. 1 draft choices.
Since taking the reins that November day in Starkville, Mississippi, Jones has completed nearly 74% of his passes for a total of 4,144 yards and 37 touchdowns.
In 2020, Jones has been at the forefront of the first-ranked Tide’s 10-0 record, emerging as a favorite to win the Heisman Trophy. In three successive games in October, the 6’3”, 214-pound quarterback surpassed 400 passing yards. Against Tennessee, he was nearly flawless, completing 25 of 31 throws for 387 yards.
Jones atoned for last year’s loss to his program’s in-state rival with a five-touchdown performance against Auburn. His effort led to him being named as the SEC’s Offensive Player of the Week for the fourth time this year.
Jones has demonstrated this season that he can handle the pressure of succeeding a beloved passer. If he lasts late into the first round in April, the Steelers would be wise to scoop him up.