<
>

Steelers can set bold path by drafting QB behind Ben Roethlisberger

play
Stephen A. agrees with Snoop on Steelers' QB situation (2:27)

Stephen A. Smith agrees with rap artist Snoop Dogg in that Pittsburgh should draft a successor to Ben Roethlisberger, but it shouldn't be the team's top priority. (2:27)

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers would have one of the best environments for Patrick Mahomes, DeShone Kizer or any other developmental quarterback to learn behind the scenes for two or three seasons. Even Snoop Dogg agrees.

Bruce Arians brought up an interesting point that relates to the Steelers. The Arizona Cardinals coach said any drafted quarterback would have a "unique situation" in Arizona because he'd get first-team reps with the starting offense on Wednesdays, Carson Palmer's rest day.

Well, Ben Roethlisberger, 35, often gets rest days on Wednesdays, too. Though Landry Jones assumes responsibilities on those days, the Steelers have a platform for a young player to actually get better on the field instead of the film-room couch. The transition would be smoother for all involved.

"That ain't a normal rookie [situation]," said Arians, according to the Arizona Republic.

Establishing a succession plan is far from an exact process. Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid says if you ask 32 coaches, you'll probably get 32 different answers about the quarterback handoff. "Every situation is different," Reid said. "It sure looked good when the Green Bay Packers did it."

Brett Favre was in his mid-30s when Green Bay drafted Aaron Rodgers, as Roethlisberger is now.

And it's possible that at least a couple of teams among the group of clubs with starters who are 30-something -- the Steelers, Cardinals, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, Los Angeles Chargers and Chiefs -- will draft a passer somewhere in the first four to five rounds.

At minimum, the Steelers seem to sense the urgency attached to Roethlisberger's reflective offseason that eventually resulted in his commitment for 2017.

In the past, the Patriots and Packers haven't been afraid to frequently draft quarterbacks as a general practice. The Steelers have taken a different approach, with no signal-callers in the top three rounds since Roethlisberger entered the league in 2004.

To be sure, the Steelers have several needs and could always delay the inevitable one more year. But at least a few QBs could fit the upside-stash model:

  • Patrick Mahomes: Huge arm, and held command of offense at Texas Tech, where he made two quarterbacks transfer (NFL coaches notice that stuff). Probably needs a few years before playing, though. Might work his way into first round.

  • DeShone Kizer: Unfinished product has size and arm teams covet. He looks like an NFL quarterback. Making transition could prove more difficult.

  • Joshua Dobbs: Smarts, adequate arm, decision-making/accuracy a question for some.

  • Nate Peterman: Good makeup for the position, reads defenses well. Does he have enough arm strength?

  • Davis Webb: Not everyone is sold on him, but there's no denying he has momentum right now. Wants to be great. Air Raid stigma doesn't help.

  • Jerod Evans: Probably a late-round prospect. Decent athlete with arm strength. Considered raw with limited experience.

Though Texans coach Bill O'Brien likes the quarterback crop in this class, he knows "there's no substitute for experience."

"For me, as a general rule, it's tough to start a guy [right away]," O'Brien said.

The Steelers are one of the few teams that can follow that statement and still get draft adequate help at the position.

It's hard to know whether they'll make the move, but there's no doubt they'll have options -- for coach Mike Tomlin to continue to win now while planting a seed for his next five-plus years in Pittsburgh.