The Pittsburgh Steelers are going to need a future franchise quarterback soon. Here’s why they should not just settle for anyone.
There’s nothing that says ‘quarterback limbo’ like settling for a player who shouldn’t be a franchise quarterback. The Steelers might be four deep at the quarterback position, but they should start to look elsewhere when it comes time to search for Ben Roethlisberger’s replacement.
There has been an ongoing debate among Steelers fans as to whether or not Mason Rudolph or Dwayne Haskins will be the next franchise quarterback for Pittsburgh. Personally, I don’t think that this is a role that either one of them is suited for.
Typically, it doesn’t take very long to determine whether or not an NFL quarterback has the “it factor” required to be the next man up. I can say confidently that I don’t believe Rudolph or Haskins has what it takes. After being low on both prospects coming out of college and witnessing their play over the past few years, I view the pair of Steelers backups as exactly that: backups. Trying to mold one of them into the next franchise quarterback for Pittsburgh is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole – it just won’t work.
Rudolph and Haskins are lacking traits required for today’s franchise QB
So what are Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins lacking to become franchise passers? There are a number of important traits missing from their arsenals. For starters, both quarterbacks are statues in the pocket with very limited ability to extend the play and virtually no threat to run the ball.
Not every quarterback in today’s NFL needs to be an effective runner with the football, but it’s certainly an added bonus. However, they all must be able to regularly feel and elude the pressure. This is something we simply have not witnessed from either Rudolph or Haskins, and it lines up with what we saw in college. Though they both have great size, they are extremely slow-footed inside the pocket and lack the ability to extend the play.
In addition, Haskins and Rudolph might possess the arm strength to push the ball down the field, but they aren’t willing to throw the deep ball nearly as often as they need to be in order to be a franchise quarterback. In today’s NFL, offenses that dink and dunk the ball down the field will never be able to keep pace with those making big plays at a much higher rate.
Rudolph and Haskins both average 6.4 yards per attempt and under in their NFL careers so far, according to Pro Football Reference. This would have been good for 29th and 30th, respectively, in the NFL in 2020.
Complacent quarterbacks who can’t make enough big plays down the field are certainly not the guys you want at the helm, and this is something that rarely changes with more years in the league. They are either good deep-ball passers or they are not.
What should Steelers do?
To be quite honest, options are limited if the team wants to find a true franchise quarterback. Rarely do players like Matt Stafford become available for trade, as organizations are hardly ever willing to part with their most valuable asset. Likewise, we don’t see great quarterbacks hit the free-agent market very often, as their teams make sure they are locked up to an extension before that can happen.
Unless the Steelers stumble upon a Stafford-like trade candidate next offseason, Pittsburgh is going to have to pursue a franchise quarterback in the NFL Draft. Obviously, there is a lot of risks involved here. Not only would the team be taking a chance on a young college quarterback who could easily bust in the NFL, but they will be forced to spend elite draft capital in order to acquire such a player – probably even trading up in the draft to make sure they secure a good one.
We can never say for sure which draft prospects will succeed and which ones will fall flat, but I am extremely confident that neither Mason Rudolph nor Dwayne Haskins is the answer the Pittsburgh Steelers want as their next franchise quarterback after Ben Roethlisberger. Teams that settle can’t compete for championships. Let’s hope the Steelers don’t get complacent when it comes to the quarterback position.