Although Ben Roethlisberger went down with a season-ending elbow injury after playing in just two games in 2019, the Pittsburgh Steelers posted an 8-8 record and finished second in the AFC North.
Pittsburgh struggled following the departures of Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown and didn’t have a decent backup quarterback. Roethlisberger is 38 now though, so perhaps it’s time for the Steelers to explore finding his heir.
2020 Draft Picks
Round 2, pick 17 (No. 49 overall): Chase Claypool, WR, Notre Dame
Round 3, pick 38 (No. 102): Alex Highsmith, DE, UNC Charlotte
Round 4, pick 18 (No. 124): Anthony McFarland Jr., RB, Maryland
Round 4, pick 29 (No. 135): Kevin Dotson, OG, Louisiana
Round 6, pick 19 (No. 198): Antoine Brooks, Jr., S, Maryland
Round 7, pick 18 (No. 232): Carlos Davis, DT, Nebraska
There’s no telling what kind of shape Roethlisberger will be in when he returns, and it doesn’t seem like Mason Rudolph, Devlin Hodges, or Paxton Lynch can replace him. None of the reserves were able to earn Mike Tomlin’s trust last season, so it could be time to look for a player with higher upside and playmaking ability.
James Conner dropped off in his third NFL season after nearly reaching 1,000 yards on the ground last season. The offensive line didn’t do a great job run blocking, as Steelers backs only averaged 3.74 yards per carry as a group, according to Football Outsiders. The was the sixth lowest average in the NFL last season.
The Steelers ranked first in sacks with 54 last season and improved their secondary by adding Minkah Fitzpatrick via midseason trade. The pass rush is strong with T.J. Watt and Cam Heyward leading the way, but the interior defensive line could use an upgrade.
Dream first pick
The Steelers might not have any first-round picks, but that doesn’t mean they can’t find a solid quarterback prospect. If Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts slips to the middle of the second round, Pittsburgh should take a chance on him. He has the mobility Rudolph and Hodges lack and showcased that he’s more than a runner last season by throwing 32 touchdowns passes. The NFL is beginning to favor more athletic quarterbacks, and the Steelers could ease their transition of leadership by letting Hurts learn behind a successful veteran for a few years.