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Running Out the Clock on Big Ben

After this season, it might be curtains for the Hall Of Fame career of Ben Roethlisberger. The time to look for the future QB for the Steelers is now.

Frustrated Ben (post injury) by Brook Ward is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Running Out the Clock on Big Ben


Estimated Reading Time: 5 Minutes

There comes a time for every Quarterback, good or bad, and unless you’re Tom Brady, to call it on a career. And I’m sorry to say that the time has come for Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben hasn’t been the same since his 2019 elbow injury. If he were to take the field at the start of 2022 season he would be doing so at age 40. He would be the oldest human quarterback in the NFL. Tom Brady is clearly some kind of bionic humanoid robot alien. Tom Brady has also been kept upright more in his career. Tom was also never one to scramble, taking off and flying headfirst into traffic, both on the field and off.

Big Ben would be leaving with his head held high. He would be leaving a Hall of Fame career after 18 seasons. Two Super Bowl rings, three Super Bowl appearances, and five AFC Championship appearances. And look, he probably would have played in five Super Bowls if it weren’t for Tom Brady. That’s a hell of a career!

If the Steelers had a halfway decent offensive line, and one top 10 receiver along with this defense, who until recently has been outstanding, I would say go for one more ring. But the stark reality is, this team is more than a few pieces away from a Super Bowl run. It’s more than an aging quarterback on a rebuilt elbow should be tasked with carrying. No one will remember these years, Ben. But this is a young team at every position, except the most important. It’s time to inject some youth into the position. The last time that happened, that team didn’t look poised to make a Super Bowl run either. So you never know.

Big Ben’s successor may already be in Heinz Field

Mason Rudolph. That’s right, Mason Rudolph!

If you look at Mason Rudolph’s locker, then slowly back out of the Steeler’s locker room and walk down the hall. You will find the locker of Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett.

GOTCHA!

Come on, if Mason Rudolph was the future in Pittsburgh, he would have been given the reins already. It seems like everyone outside of the front office knows that. If Rudolph was the future there would be no need to beg Ben to come back for two more seasons after his elbow injury. The future of the franchise does not tie the winless Lions. Mason Rudolph is the career backup that causes you to abandon all hope for your season when you have to turn to him.

Kenny Pickett is the guy who didn’t have a first round grade until this season. Kenny Pickett now sits 4th in the Heisman Trophy odds. Kenny Pickett just broke a 40-year-old record for most touchdown passes by a Pitt quarterback. That Pitt quarterback was Dan Marino. Yeah, Kenny Pickett is GOOD!

Do the Steelers make the same mistake twice?

Speaking of Dan Marino, the Steelers famously passed on the Hall Of Fame signal caller in the 1983 draft. Imagine going Terry Bradshaw, Dan Marino, then a few years later Ben Roethlisberger. Instead of that painful bridge of Cliff Stoudt, Mark Malone, Bubby Brister, Neil O’Donnell, Mike Tomczak, Kordell Stewart, and Tommy Maddox.

Now, one broken college record does not a Hall of Fame Quarterback make. But do the Steelers make the same mistake twice and pass on Pickett if he is available? Dan was more of a shocker because he not only was an All-Star Pitt quarterback, but he was from the Steel City. He played high school ball at Central Catholic. But Kenny Pickett is already beloved in the Steel City. 4,066 yards, 40 to 7 touchdown to interception ratio probably helps that some.

Steelers need to stop punting on the Quarterback position

Realistically, the Steelers needed to seriously start thinking about the future of the position in 2018. And they did, taking Mason Rudolph in the 3rd round. The only problem is they passed on Lamar Jackson in favor of safety Terrell Edmonds. Edmonds has been a serviceable safety. But his level of talent could have been found somewhere else at some point down the line. I would have rather had Jackson.

With not a lot of Quarterback needy teams in the first round, and a draft class that should be fairly evenly spread among the first three rounds, Pickett should be available in the mid-first round. That’s right where I expect the Steelers to draft.

If Kenny Pickett can be had mid-first round or within reach via a trade up, why not roll the dice on the most exciting QB prospect and the most pro-ready in the draft class this year? He’s 6’3, with plenty of arm strength, a good pocket presence, and he can use his legs to scramble and extend the play when he has to. Who does that sound like, Steeler Nation?

The Steelers have never been a dual threat quarterback team. Which is why someone like Lamar Jackson didn’t appeal to them. That being the case, someone like Malik Willis, Matt Coral or Desmond Riddler (2nd round or later) probably wouldn’t be as appealing to them as Carson Strong or Kenny Pickett. Big arms who can run, but only when they need to.

Chasing Pickett

Kenny Pickett is built like a Steelers quarterback. Each week that he breaks records and wins games he is catching more eyes of NFL scouts and upping his draft stock. And each week the Steelers lose, they are getting closer to being able to grab him. If those two can catch up to each other it could mean great things for the Steelers and Steeler Nation.

Christian is husband, father and video editor working in New York City. Originally from the Greater Pittsburgh Area he is a life long fan The Steelers, Penguins and Pirates as well as Professional Wrestling.

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