As we are just a mere days away from camp, it’s time to start looking at a position by position break down of what the Steelers have and how it will likely play out through camp and into the season. Today we’ll start with the quarterback spot.
Ben Roethlisberger -There’s no QB controversy here. Big Ben is the number one guy and without him this team is sunk.
He’ll be called upon to put up another 3,500 yards and 25TD passes for sure. He’s the unquestioned leader of this team at this juncture of his career and he’ll need to lead the young guys both on and off the field.
The key to the season is keeping Ben healthy, if he can play all 16 games then this team has a chance, if he can’t, then they will need to readjust their entire offensive focus and pray the defense steps up.
Bruce Gradkowski – Gradkowski is no doubt the teams’ number two quarterback. Many would love to see this spot go to Landry Jones to enable the team to release Gradkowski and save money but that’s not going to happen.
Gradkowski has started and won in this league and should Big Ben go down; Gradkowski could fill in for 3 or 4 games and win. He’s not a guy you want starting the whole season but he’s certainly a good number two option and one the black and gold intend to keep.
Landry Jones – Jones enters his second year on the team and is currently listed as number three on the depth chart. While Jones should remain in that position heading out of camp and into the season, there is always the possibility he could step up and remove Gradkowski as the number two guy or he could go the other way and not make the team at all.
Jones has talent, no doubt about that but he’s certainly untested and unproven. He’ll get his chances in camp and in the preseason and it seems unlikely his spot will change up or down.
Brendon Kay-Kay was signed in May as an undrafted rookie out of Cincinnati. Kay was a very solid college quarterback and the team likes him very much. The coaches fully expect Kay to push Jones for the third spot on this roster and they do believe he’s good enough to land it.
That said, Kay is an undrafted rookie and Jones was a 4th round draft pick last year so the edge will always go to the guy the team has more invested in, in the event they are even. Or even if Kay is just a hair better, Jones will be kept.
Kay will get his chances in the preseason but in the end he’ll most likely end up on the practice squad this season.
Quarterback is the most important position on the field and fortunately for the black and gold they don’t have to worry about their situation. They have a two time Super Bowl Champion, elite quarterback at the top, a veteran starter who can fill in if needed in a pinch as the number two guy and two young guns battling it out for the third spot. There are many teams around the league who envy the depth the Steelers have here.
The real question is, what will this depth chart look like after the 2015 season when Big Ben’s current contract expires?
That, however, is a topic for another day.
Mike Pelaia hosts the website Steel Nation Association www.steelnationassociation.com- Covering the Steelers and helping Children’s Hospital All Day Everyday. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.