Camp Battles: QB Edition

By: Leif Adams

I am going to review each position over the next few weeks and determine roster battles for each. Some will be closer than others and some will be for who backups or even just to make the 53 man squad.

First up is Quarterback.
Ben Roethlisberger is obviously going to be the starter but that doesn’t mean this position should be ignored. The Steelers made several significant moves to the QB position during the offseason including drafting Joshua Dobbs out of the University of Tennessee with the 135th (4th round) pick. Dobbs is a cerebral player with quick feet and an NFL caliber arm. He is actually a rocket scientist so his smarts can’t be questioned. He ran a 4.64 official time at the combine so his speed is not a problem. Dobbs greatest strength in college was throwing the deep ball regularly, chucking the ball 50+ yards in the air with ease. So NFL arm is not an issue. So why did Dobbs fall to the 135th pick? Because his accuracy is far from NFL ready, he has a thin frame, and his desire to play in the NFL has been questioned.

Lets start with his desire to play football. I honestly think to question a man who put in the film time, workouts, practice, and so on all the while taking a course load most people can’t fathom is just ludicrous. Not to mention all the charity work he does. Dobbs obviously has spread himself thin and has a lot of interests besides football. But that said what happens when he no longer has the workload of majoring in aerospace engineering? That is a lot of time to devote to the game of football and maybe his best football is in front of him.

Now lets change gears and look at his accuracy and throwing motion. I see a lot of inaccuracies are likely do to poor footwork which is good news. Footwork can be fixed a lot easier than your delivery point on your release. See Tim Tebow. His release and throwing motion is not great but not horrible either. I think a season of learning the system and working with a QB and seeing what he develops into come 2018 is more important than what he looks like in preseason this year. Personally, I feel Dobbs ends up in the Dennis Dixon to Teddy Bridgewater in terms of NFL ability. I don’t think he has an NFL frame so weight training will be an underrated necessity for him to withstand the pounding an NFL quarterback takes weekly. But again we know Ben is the starter so the question is who is the best option at backup.
Next QB move the Steelers made was re-signing Landry Jones. He signed a 2 year 4.4 million dollar deal. That actually puts him into a decently paid backup QB bracket right around 36th/37th paid in the NFL. On the other hand the Steelers only committed 600k in guarantees to him in the form of a signing bonus. So they aren’t married to him either.

Now I believe when the Steelers gave Landry this contract they planned on drafting a QB a little earlier than they did to force more competition. But even though most the experts predicted not a lot of QB talent and perhaps no QB worthy of a first round pick 3 went in the top 12 picks. I feel the Steelers not wanting to reach picked up higher draft board players at other positions and that is why they waited until 135th for a QB. What Jones has going for him is his working knowledge of the Steelers playbook and the familiarity he already has with the receivers on the team.
So who wins the top clipboard and headset to be called Ben Roethlisbergers backup? My money is on Jones.

Yes, though it saddens me to say I feel Jones will show enough in training camp to hold onto the backup spot as I feel Dobbs would have to learn the offense, get accustomed to reading an NFL defense, and get his body into NFL shape in order to show enough to supplant Jones. Not this year but I feel if Dobbs can get his head into the playbook, study film and work with his QB coach, and maybe follow Debo around the weight room that next year he would have the opportunity to beat out Jones.

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