If The Steelers Drafted Tomorrow
By Philip Botti
With the win Sunday, the Pittsburgh Steelers are dragging through a slow season with a 3-6 record. They beat a Buffalo Bills team that is having a bad season floating around the AFC waters at 3-7. People should always be happy with a win, but a high-flying Detroit Lions’ offense comes into town next week.
The way the Pittsburgh has played this season makes it likely it will have a top-10 pick at the end of the year. Let’s say the Steelers’ season ended today; they would probably end up with the seventh pick in next May’s Draft. Who would they pick?
Most mock drafts have them choosing defensive players or an offense lineman, but what if they decided to go into a different direction. Pittsburgh could make a move like the Indianapolis Colts did a few years ago.
The Colts had what they thought was an injured Peyton Manning and a 2-14 football team. They ended up releasing Manning at the end of the 2011 season after they had just signed him to a five-year, $90 million contract. They used their first-round pick (No. 1 overall) to pick Andrew Luck. Indianapolis is now two years into the “Luck Era” and has a 6-3 record, leading the AFC South one year after an 11-5 campaign.
This is where the Steelers come into focus. They have an aging team and QB Ben Roethlisberger has only two years left in his contract with the team at the age of 31. Like the Colts, Pittsburgh has been struggling to be the playoff team that fans are used to watching. It might be time for the Steelers to start rebuilding and get some fresh faces.
There were tons of quarterbacks in the 2012 draft class and this one doesn’t appear to be much different. Roethlisberger has also been struggling to show his full potential since former offensive coordinator Bruce Arians – now the Arizona Cardinals’ coach – was replaced by Todd Haley. In Week 10, reports surfaced the Steelers were taking trade proposals for a frustrated Roethlisberger. His camp came out quickly to say that the rumors were “ludicrous”.
If Pittsburgh traded Roethlisberger, its first pick should be a franchise quarterback. If the Steelers drafted this week, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel would fall right into their laps and could become that franchise quarterback. Manziel’s stock has dropped after his well-documented off-field troubles this past spring and summer, but he has proven that he can be an elusive quarterback that can win games. He has been putting up huge numbers and playing great against the top SEC teams.
Earlier this week, Roethlisberger stated, “I’d retire before accepting a trade,” so it is unlikely Pittsburgh will part with its current quarterback. The Steelers have drafted safely for years, so it’s hard to imagine them taking a risk at the position. Manziel may be one of the most exciting players in the NCAA, but if the Steelers drafted today, they would probably try to find a talented offensive lineman – Texas A&M’s OT Jake Matthews, teammate Cedric Ogbuehi or Michigan’s Taylor Lewan could fill the bill – to help protect Roethlisberger and push the running game.