Steelers should be making plans to move up in the NFL Draft for a quarterback

Trey Lance #5 of the North Dakota State. (Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images)
Trey Lance #5 of the North Dakota State. (Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images) /

The Steelers have a major need at quarterback and solid draft capital over the next two years. Here’s why they should be making plans to move up in the NFL Draft.

Despite your views on Ben Roethlisberger and the season that he had in 2020, nobody is denying the inevitable: that the end of an era is nearing in Pittsburgh. After 17 illustrious seasons in the league and is regarded as one of the best quarterbacks in football over a decade-and-a-half, the Steelers will soon part ways with their most productive quarterback in the history of the franchise.

While there are a select few out there who are lobbying for the Steelers to give Roethlisberger one more short extension in an effort to free up cap space in 2021, this is a move that should be out of the question after how poorly he played down the stretch. A more realistic option for Pittsburgh should be whether or not they cut him this offseason.

Whether Ben plays out the final year of his deal or not, everyone should agree that the Steelers are now in a position where they must find a quarterback soon. Though they could potentially wait another year and hope for the best in the 2022 NFL Draft, the outlook of the quarterbacks next April looks iffy at best, and there is no guarantee that they will be able to land one of the top passers. Pittsburgh could also choose to stream quarterbacks when Roethlisberger hangs it up, but this hasn’t worked out for teams often in the past.

Steelers need to formulate a plan to trade up for a quarterback

Because of this, the Steelers need to make plans right away for moving up in the 2021 NFL Draft to select a quarterback. This doesn’t mean that they should force themselves into making a deal to get higher in the draft, but they should start ironing out the details right now. There are several reasons why this would make sense.

For starters, Pittsburgh is going to be loaded with draft capital over the next two seasons. This year, they have 9 draft choices on hand, and with all of the players they are set to lose this offseason (likely including players like JuJu Smith-Schuster and Bud Dupree), they should be one of the most compensated teams next offseason. All of this additional draft capital will give them the firepower they need to execute a trade to get into the top ten.

In addition to this, we have no idea what the future holds beyond the 2021 NFL Draft. Though they could hold out on drafting a quarterback until next year, there are many experts who believe that the 2022 quarterback class is going to be very weak, and I thoroughly believe that the top three passers this year would all go ahead of Sam Howell – who is projected to be the number one quarterback in next years’ draft.

While it’s extremely unlikely that players like Justin Fields or Zach Wilson will make it out of the top five picks this year, North Dakota State quarterback, Trey Lance, should be a real possibility to slip in the draft because of the depth of the position. Though there are plenty of questions that come with taking a small-school quarterback, he has the traits that make him worth rolling the dice on.

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Over the next two years, Pittsburgh is sure to have a handful of third and fourth-round draft choices, so trading a few extra day-two picks to get close to the top ten shouldn’t be a big deal. Nothing is more important than finding a quarterback and the Steelers should already be making plans to move up in the draft if one starts to slip.