The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Volunteers quarterback Joshua Dobbs in the fourth round of the NFL Draft this past weekend, investing the 135th overall pick a player who could be the heir apparent to Ben Roethlisberger – or, at the very least, the heir apparent to backup Landry Jones.
Jerome Bettis, though, didn’t see a hidden message in the selection.
“Well, I think when you look at it, the Steelers have always carried three quarterbacks for the most part, so I don’t see it as being any kind of statement to Ben in terms of ‘Hey, he’s ready to take your job,’” Bettis said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “Joshua Dobbs, when you talk to anybody, anybody will tell you he’s a project. He has all the physical ability in the world, but he’s still a project, so he needs some development. With that being said, you got to guess from the things that (Roethlisberger) says and his actions that he’s probably (got a) two- or three-(year) window. I think that gives the Steelers an opportunity to gauge Joshua Dobbs in the two- or three-year window – much like they’ve done with Landry jones. So I see them as doing the same thing that they’ve done in the past. I don’t think it’s any indictment on Ben or Landry Jones.”
Brandon Tierney, though, isn’t sure that Roethlisberger has three years left in the tank. Big Ben is 35, his body has taken a pounding in recent years, and he even hinted at retirement following Pittsburgh’s AFC Championship loss to New England.
“I did the exact same thing,” said Bettis, who played 13 NFL seasons and helped the Steelers to victory in Super Bowl XL. “We lost the AFC Championship Game, and I said I was going to retire. I came back the next year.”
Bettis sees Big Ben doing the same thing – at least for the next couple of seasons.
“Ben is a different type of player,” Bettis said. “He’s got to be motivated, recharge his batteries. I think him stepping away gave him a chance to do that. I really believe from a physical standpoint, he’s one of the toughest guys I know. I don’t see one year being the window for Ben. I really don’t.”
The Steelers, to Bettis’ point, invested a fourth-round pick in Jones in 2013 – and Jones, with seven touchdowns in his career, isn’t exactly pushing Ben for the starting spot.
“They’re going to continue to draft quarterbacks in the late rounds because you have to ultimately have the heir apparent,” said Bettis, who ranks sixth all-time with 13,662 rushing yards. “The Giants drafted a quarterback, (Davis Webb, in the third round). Is that saying Eli Manning is on his way out? No, that’s not what it’s saying. They’re saying, ‘Hey, we want to see if we can develop a quarterback and maybe possibly he can be the heir apparent to Eli Manning.
“So the fact that Ben made these comments, yes, it will perk the ears up of the organization to say, ‘Okay, maybe we need to start being proactive and try to find somebody in the next couple of years,’” Bettis continued. “I think that’s what they did with Joshua Dobbs. He’s a couple of years away. So if they would have drafted somebody in the second round, now you’re saying ‘Uh-oh.’ The fact that they drafted a guy who’s a project who needs a couple of years tells me that they don’t believe that Ben is a one-and-done type of situation.”