Last week Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert told Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk that “none of us know” whether this is Ben Roethlisberger’s last year. Except it very likely is the last year for the 39-year-old QB, in part because it’s the last year on his contract, and in part because the wear-and-tear of 17 NFL seasons seem to be catching up to him, as they did toward the end of last year. Fact is, the first half of January’s playoff loss to the Browns looked very much like Dan Marino’s last game, which ought to make Steelers fans nervous about what they might see in 2021.
On the other hand, the addition of a first-round running back like Nagee Harris—not to mention an infusion of youth on the offensive line—could greatly benefit Roethlisberger, who still has an enviable group of weapons at the skill positions.
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But let’s assume for a minute that this is Big Ben’s last season—and that the Steelers go in search of quarterback help in the 2022 NFL Draft. That’s what Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus is expecting, as he has the Steelers drafting USC’s Kedon Slovis at No. 13 overall, making him the fifth quarterback off the board in Renner’s first-round mock.
Kedon Slovis a Top Ten Pick?
“Slovis had an up and down sophomore year after an outstanding true freshman campaign,” relates Renner. “He doesn’t quite have the arm of some others in this class, but he’s been one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the class for two years running.”
That perhaps explains why Renner doesn’t have Slovis ranked as high as, say, ESPN’s Todd McShay or Ryan Wilson of CBS Sports, who have Slovis going No. 2 overall to the Detroit Lions and No. 9 overall to the Las Vegas Raiders, respectively.
Thus far in his college career, Slovis is 12-5 as a starter, having completed 459 of 656 passes (70%) for 5,423 yards with 47 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.
For his part, Renner has four quarterbacks going before Slovis, beginning with Spencer Rattler (Oklahoma) to the Houston Texans at No. 1 overall, followed by Sam Howell (North Carolina) at No. 2 overall.
Then there’s Florida’s Emory Jones (No. 6 overall), who Renner labels as a “massive projection” at this point in time, followed by Liberty’s Malik Willis (No. 11 overall), who is described as “the single most physically gifted quarterback in the country,” as he’s “got a hose of an arm and moves like a running back.”
But at the moment, McShay likes Slovis more than Rattler, Howell, Jones or Willis. Earlier this week on ESPN’s NFL Live he said, “I just like the way he carries himself. I like the ability to extend plays inside the pocket and throw on the move…. I think Slovis is very underrated.”
The Steelers Haven’t Had a Top Ten Pick Since 2000
Of course, if Slovis does end up going as high as No. 2 overall, the Steelers aren’t likely to have a chance at getting him. In fact, the Steelers have only picked in the Top 10 five times since selecting Terry Bradshaw first overall in 1970.
The last time it happened was in 2000, when the Steelers drafted wide receiver Plaxico Burress (Michigan State) No. 8 overall.
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