Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
There is nothing to suggest that the Steelers are looking to replace Roethlisberger—they are likely desperate for his return as soon as possible—but that does not mean that they cannot take the time to groom a replacement.
In a year where the NFL draft is going to be saturated with quarterback talent, the Steelers need not wait on their future. The problem, however, is that they are a contender now and finding a top-tier prospect is hard to do at the back end of a draft.
Players like Matt Barkley and Geno Smith will likely be top 10 picks, but one quarterback with equal potential who could fall to Pittsburgh is Oklahoma’s Landry Jones.
NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks opined this past week that Jones’ draft stock may have declined this season, even though he was in the conversation with the Barkleys of the NCAA just six months ago.
In games that could have put the Sooners in conversations for the national championship, Jones attempted 43 and 51 passes for just one touchdown and two interceptions in losses to Kansas State and Notre Dame.
Jones threw 10 interceptions overall in 2012 and had three games with a completion percentage in the 50 percent range. However, he also had two games with more than 500 yards passing, which were decided by a combined four points.
Jones is a big and mobile quarterback, a la Roethlisberger. Another player with a similar build and attributes is South Carolina’s Conner Shaw, who will likely return to school in 2013 to improve his draft stock. If the Steelers are uncomfortable going after Jones this year, Shaw could be available a year from now.
Regardless, both of these players are in transition and ripe for the molding. They would do well to learn from Ben Roethlisberger.