The Steelers haven't drafted a quarterback in the first round since 2004, when they used the No. 11 pick on Ben Roethlisberger. Fourteen years later, Roethlisberger has two Super Bowl titles and remains one of the NFL's best players. At 36, he'd seem to be nearing the end of a Hall of Fame career, but he says he wants to play several more years.
Knowing that -- and that the Steelers have more immediate needs (inside linebacker and safety come to mind) -- there's no way the team would use the No. 28 overall pick on a Roethlisberger replacement who might not even see the field for two or three seasons, right?
"We haven't eliminated any position this year,'' general manager Kevin Colbert said Monday, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "Our job is not only to win a championship in '18, it's to secure this franchise's ability to do it in the future, and you have to have a great player at the quarterback position in our eyes to have the best chance to win a championship."
And to do that, the Steelers would be wise to draft defensive help, starting with finding Ryan Shazier's replacement. But 'tis the season for smokescreenin' and obfuscatin' so Colbert's not going to just come out and say that.
"Look, Ben's a Hall of Fame quarterback," he continued. "We're very lucky to have him. He has stated his intention to play at least a few more years, and that's awesome. ... Fortunately, we have one who is still a very highly productive, highly efficient quarterback, so part of our job is to surround him with the best talent as well. So we have to weigh that in, and we will weigh that in throughout, but we haven't eliminated any position in this draft whatsoever."
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It's also worth noting that the Steelers used a 2017 fourth-round pick on Josh Dobbs and they have no idea if he can play. Veteran Landry Jones, a 2013 fourth-rounder, has appeared in 19 games and is 3-2 as a starter. It's not like a rookie would suddenly catapult to No. 2 on the depth chart behind Big Ben. Of course, the idea that the Steelers would take a quarterback in the first round isn't impossible; coach Mike Tomlin had dinner with Lamar Jackson last month, and the team was at Mason Rudolph's pro day.
In related, unsurprising news, Rudolph would love to play for Tomlin and the Steelers.
"Of course you have to get ready to replace [Roethlisberger]," Colbert told NBC Sports earlier this month. "We've tried to add young quarterbacks into the mix. We've done it with Landry Jones, we've done it with Josh Dobbs. We've tried to do that just to keep some young guys in the system. But at some point, you may draft a quarterback higher. But as long as you have Ben Roethlisberger playing for you, you're hopefully not in a position where you're going to get one that high. The year we got Ben we were coming off a losing season. And that was very unfortunate — the losing season — but we were very fortunate to get him."
The latest round of CBSSports.com mock drafts doesn't have the Steelers seriously considering taking a quarterback. Three of the mock drafts have Pittsburgh taking Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans, two more have the Steelers taking Stanford safety Justin Reid or Central Florida cornerback Mike Huges, and another thinks LSU running back Derrius Guice will be their guy.
That said, should there be an early run on linebackers and defensive backs, and should Jackson or Rudolph still be on the board when the Steelers are on the clock ... well, all bets are off.