Going into the 2013 NFL season, one area that must be addressed for the Pittsburgh Steelers is the quarterback depth chart. The incumbent, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is the undisputed leader of this offense and a top-ten quarterstaves in the league. In his nine years in the league he has been in three Super Bowls, winning two of them. Not many quarterbacks can make that claim.
And while the starting spot is not in question, the players who are behind Roethlisberger failed to impress on many levels, ultimately costing the Steelers a playoff birth. Quarterbacks Byron Leftwhich and Charlie Batch have been great teammates but when called into duty really struggled. Don’t be shocked if both are gone in 2013.
So the question becomes what kind of quarterback do the Steelers want to bring in to fill out the depth chart? The Steelers have multiple options, but I think they need to step out of their comfort zone a little. During the course of the 2012 season they typically carried two actives quarterbacks each week, shirking the third quarterback on game day. Lots of teams do this in order to carry an extra cornerback or extra offensive lineman in case of injury.
This year I would still have three quarterbacks on the roster, and while I have no qualms about one of those being a journeyman veteran type who can step in and manage the offense if need be, but it would be interesting to see if the Steelers would bring in a rookie quarterback who is a true dual-threat to add that extra dimension to the offense.
But which dual threat quarterback to choose? There are really three names that continue to stand out, each of which carries a different grade in terms of what kind round they would be drafted in. The best news is one would garner a high pick and could be an incredible value.
First is Matt Scott from the University of Arizona. Scott ran the spread while he was with the Wildcats and showed himself to be much more than just a gimmick as a runner with 5 games over 50 yards rushing. Scott is also a very legitimate thrower and so a grade on his would be higher, probably needing a late third, early fourth round to get him. Scott is a little thin, but still a very good dual threat prospect.
Moving a little later in the draft comes Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein. Klein is a big, physical bruiser of a runner, and while he lacks the foot speed of Scott, he’s a very smart player who comes from a quarterback run heavy offense and so he’s shown he is tough and can stand up to some abuse. The downside to Klein is, he really isn’t much of a throwing quarterback, and so the trade-off between he and Scott is Klein is likely a better runner, and Scott a better thrower. The other advantage has is Klein is likely a late fifth through mid sixth round pick, and so he brings with him less risk.
But if the Steelers didn’t want to spend a pick on a quarterback at all, but still wanted that run threat, they could look to Arkansas State for Ryan Aplin. Aplin is a little smaller than either Klein or Scott, but he’s very quick and agile and shows very nice speed. He’s also likely an undrafted free agent, so the Steelers wouldn’t need a draft pick to get him. He’s got very good command of a spread zone read offense and isn’t a bad thrower either.
The off-season is going to really be exciting this year for the Steelers as there is going to be some significant changes and one that could really provide a spark to this offense would be a quarterback who could be called on to add an extra dimension to the rushing game.