Steelers Draft 2013: Quarterbacks

Importance of finding a young backup for 31-year-old quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is growing for Kevin Colbert and the Steelers.

For seven drafts, from 2005 through 2011, Steelers GM Kevin Colbert could confidently look reporters in the eyes and tell them to rule quarterback out of any first-round prediction list.

Yeah, no kidding.

But at the NFL Combine in 2012, Colbert told us to rule out punter.

"Not quarterback?" was the follow-up.

"OK, quarterback," Colbert conceded. "Quarterback and punter."

So he had to be coerced a bit, but he did rule the position out.

This year, Colbert didn't hem or haw. He stated his position about the position clearly.

"We're open to drafting any position in any round, even quarterback," he said.

No one batted an eye because Ben Roethlisberger is now 31 years old and coming off a savage chest/shoulder injury, the result of one of the 380 times he's been sacked in NFL games that have mattered.

Behind Roethlisberger is newly acquired 30-year-old Bruce Gradkowski, and behind him is a depth-chart hole that will be filled by either 38-year-old veteran Charlie Batch or a rookie.

A first-round rookie?

Well, that's unlikely. The Steelers have more pressing needs. Secondly, the first-round candidates are lacking.

Geno Smith of West Virginia is a raw prospect with a propensity for making big mistakes, as his 32 career fumbles and then the 2 safeties in his last college game attest.

Matt Barkley of USC has too soft of an arm and slow of a foot to interest a GM who has only ever drafted big-armed, mobile types.

• And that big-armed, mobile type, E.J. Manuel of Florida State, is coming out in such a poor class that he's likely to be highly overdrafted.

As teams wrestle over those three and Syracuse's Ryan Nassib in the first 40 picks, a solid second-round choice would be Tyler Wilson of Arkansas, but only if the Steelers have traded down and acquired extra picks for their other problems.

Wilson is only 6-2.1, 215, but has a strong arm, is nimble in the pocket, can read defenses, and is a hard-working team leader.

Another quarterback who would make sense, again, if the Steelers acquire an extra pick or two, is third-round prospect Zac Dysert (6-3, 231), who broke many of Ben Roethlisberger's records at Miami, Ohio.

Dysert has a fluid motion and would benefit from a maturity and leadership standpoint by being taken under Roethlisberger's wing.

Matt Scott (6-2, 213) put his 4.69 speed to use in Rich Rodriguez's zone-read option offense at Arizona and has grown into an interesting long-term prospect. The problem is he seems to have gained far too much attention to remain hidden in the late-round weeds.

The fifth-round weeds, to be specific, are where Colbert typically finds his quarterbacks. He's drafted five quarterbacks, and all but Roethlisberger came out of the fifth round.

This year's most likely candidate is Oklahoma's Landry Jones (6-4.1, 225), although my preference would be Duke's Sean Renfree (6-3.1, 219). Or better, Charlie Batch.

Wexell's Value Board for the Pittsburgh Steelers

Second Round – Tyler Wilson, Arkansas.

Third Round – Zac Dysert, Miami (Ohio).

Fifth Round – Landry Jones, Oklahoma.

Sixth Round – Sean Renfree, Duke.

Seventh Round – Ryan Griffin, Tulane.


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