The franchise selected Tennessee's Josh Dobbs in the fourth round (135th overall), adding an athletic SEC signal caller to develop behind the scenes while Roethlisberger plays through his mid-30s.
"I'm not trying to replace anyone. I'm just trying to be the best I can be ... show up for work, learn as much as I can from a future Hall of Famer," Dobbs said.
Roethlisberger has committed to a 14th NFL season but publicly flirted with retirement on 93.7 The Fan in late January. Coach Mike Tomlin said this offseason that the team would pay special attention to quarterbacks, bringing Dobbs and Texas Tech's Patrick Mahomes to Pittsburgh for pre-draft visits. But the Steelers decided to use the first three rounds to fill more pressing needs at linebacker, wide receiver and cornerback.
Dobbs has a big arm and is lauded for his smarts as an aerospace engineering major set to graduate May 11, one day before the Steelers open rookie minicamp. One knock on Dobbs during the draft process was his 61.5 completion percentage in four years at Tennessee. But Steelers quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner said Tennessee's offense didn't pad stats with easy screen passes, instead asking Dobbs to push the ball downfield, which he has the arm strength to do.
Joshua Dobbs' 3,777 total offensive yards for Tennessee in 2016 fell 12 yards shy of Peyton Manning's single-season school record.
Dobbs is a "super young man" who "checks a lot of boxes," Fichtner said. That doesn't mean the Steelers want him to take Big Ben's place anytime soon.
"I think you are always trying to better yourselves in the room, regardless of what Ben Roethlisberger is doing -- just to throw that out there," Fichtner said. "Whether he plays five more years, six more years. I tease him all the time saying we have to go eight. That's irrelevant. It's a matter of strengthening the room."
Dobbs will likely command the No. 3 quarterback job behind Landry Jones, a former fourth-round pick in 2013 who signed a two-year extension this offseason. But Dobbs can earn a larger role in future years.
Dobbs plans to be a "consistent leader" and worker in Pittsburgh.
"That's what I want to do at the end of the day -- compete and win," Dobbs said. "That's my mindset. I am just excited to bring that to the Steelers."