The Pittsburgh Steelers have eight picks in the 2021 NFL draft, including the the 24th pick in the first round. What do they plan to do with those picks? General manager Kevin Colbert shed some light on that today when he spoke with reporters. Turns out, they're a real wildcard capable of anything.
First, let's look at these quotes about players who sat out the college football season because of completely legitimate health and safety concerns. Via NFL.com:
"As I stated in the summer, if a player chooses to opt out for whatever reason, that's their decision and we will respect it," Colbert said. "However, if a player played in 2020 and those players are of equal value, the one that didn't play and the one that played, we'll take the one that played because we don't know what the opt-outs will be like in their first season back in football."
"We believe it's hard to sit this game out. Sometimes it happens because of injury, but this time it was pandemic-related for the most part. But we will take the players, again if they're close. It's not to say we're not gonna draft somebody that opted out. I couldn't say that. But if I have a choice and we have a choice, we'll take the one that played if their value is close."
So while the Steelers are open to picking players who sat out the season, they will penalize them for sitting out the season. All things being equal, the Steelers will go with a player with more wear and tear. That actually makes sense for the Steelers who will roll into the 2021 season with Ben Roethlisberger poised to start again.
Roethlisberger seems like he's been injured forever. Even if he doesn't miss a ton of games (he's played 12 or more games in 15 of 17 seasons), he is often injured. So does that mean the Steelers are considering drafting a QB whether he played last season or not? No, but also yes.
"If you look at our current depth, obviously we have four NFL veteran quarterbacks on our roster, which I feel great about," Colbert said. "We also have three of those four that are in the last year of their so-called deals, when you look at it realistically. So it's an unusual group in that we do have four. Can you add a young one? Absolutely. We always have to be on the look for that next guy and try to predict the value of taking that player at that position because most likely a young quarterback won't play for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2021."
Those four quarterbacks are Roethlisberger, Mason Rudolph, Joshua Dobbs and Dwayne Haskins. It may be the most immediately bleak and hilarious quarterback situation in the entire league. While it is unlikely a young quarterback will play for the Steelers this year, it's equally unlikely any of those guys will play quarterback for the Steelers in 2022. So the Steelers might want to consider drafting a quarterback, whether he played last season or not.