A look at the 2018 QB class shows why the Steelers shouldn't wait to draft a QB

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

So a recent article on Patrick Mahomes got me thinking...

There seem to be two camps on BTSC right now, and I thought some healthy discussion would be warranted between the two, not that it hasn't happened already.

In CAMP #1 you've got those who wish to pull the trigger on someone like Mahomes, and when I say someone "like" I mean him. Just him. No one else really. Although, I wouldn't hesitate to take Watson or Mitch if they fell to us at 30. Not likely, which is probably why Mahomes is so often the target. Because the possibility of him being there at 30 is actually, well, possible. Regardless, it's a camp that thinks we ought to draft a QB this year EARLY, as long as we aren't reaching for something that isn't there.

In CAMP #2 you have those who are in "win now" mode and/or just think that the 2018 QB class will be a much better time to draft a QB, and therefore we should wait and devote our early picks to more pressing needs like OLB and CB.

Now, admittedly, given Ben Roethlisberger's recent statements regarding retirement I'm leaning more towards camp numero uno presently.

Should the big guy have a disappointing 2018, get hurt, or we get our butts handed to us again by the Patriots, I can see him walking away from football once and for all which would leave us high and dry.

Here are some of the reasons why I believe the "let's wait to take a QB" argument is wishful thinking (a bit flawed) and we should strike now provided the talent is available.

REASON 1: As mentioned above, I consider Ben's retirement imminent, within the next 3 years. You always want to give your potential franchise QB the chance to sit and learn behind the starter, especially if he's HOF caliber. Far too many good college QB's are thrown to the wolves. Giving them a year or two to learn the system before they see the field is setting them up for success.

REASON 2: The Steelers can afford to do it now. We have few, if any, real holes we need to fill. We need backups, depth, and can probably upgrade our secondary with an early CB, but for the most part the starters are entrenched. Yes, we need to replace James Harrison. I know. if Goodell wasn't garnishing his social security checks to pay previous fines he'd probably already be retired. And yes, I'd love another "offense piece" like a TE/RB/WR early in the draft. But for me, the threat of losing Ben trumps all of that. If I had to use a car analogy I would say that we just paid a ton of money for a really nice car and engine (Brown and Bell) but we're about to have 4 flat tires (losing Ben) and I think it's important we have some good tires waiting because the tread is wearing dangerously thin, and because Landry's more of a doughnut, meant to be used ONLY in case of emergency.

REASON 3: The cream of the crop rises to the top and the Steelers hardly ever find themselves in a position to draft top 15 talent. If there were 10 Andrew Lucks in next year's draft they would all be drafted in the top 10, unless a team with a better QB like Carolina finishes near the bottom again.

Simply put, we will never get a QB who is neatly polished drafting in the back of the pack unless we trade away major draft capital, which the Steelers aren't likely to do. That means we need to carefully inspect the potential draft class and see who might be hanging around when we pick: So, with that said, let's meet our contestants...

First and foremost, there's the golden boy Sam Darnold, who hasn't even played 1 full college season and yet the draft experts have manipulated the very laws of mathematics to come up with an equation that actually proves he's the best thing since sliced bread (hey, don't argue with me, it's science, what can we do but accept it).

BUT, and this is where I take issue with trying to predict the future and why I believe that making claims that the 2018 draft class will be better than 2017 is a bit absurd (and this is really REASON 4):


Why do I say this? Well, for starters the kid is a big USC fan. Always has been. He grew up going to their games with his father. Here, this article explains why teams shouldn't tank their seasons expecting to draft him in 2018.

And he's not the only QB who will have college eligibility remaining after 2018.

Lamar Jackson (Junior), Trace McSorley (Junior), Josh Allen (RS soph), Josh Rosen (Junior), and Jake Browning (Junior) can all return to school again if they'd like.

So yes, while the 2018 QB class could be better than their 2017 counterparts, there's really no guarantee underclassmen QB's enter the draft in 2018. They could stay in school for a number of reasons. A bad year, a season ending injury, maybe they want to win a national championship or just finish their degree. Who knows. Point is, I wouldn't hold my breath and bank on all of them declaring for the draft.

Anyways, back to our 2018 QBs...

Josh Rosen, UCLA: Needs to get a healthy year in, but probably the #2 ranked QB in the draft should be perform as expected in 2018. Should be a lock for a top 10 pick IF he declares. Very much doubt the Steelers even have a chance though. Early mocks have him as a top 3 pick right behind Darnold.

Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State: One of my favorites, but also probably out of our reach. The #3 QB in the 2018 draft IMO. Steelers can probably wave as he passes by on the way to the podium. They run a spread offense BTW.

Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma: Had a 71% last year and threw for 40 TD's to only 8 INT's. If he can keep out of (more) trouble he's a 1st round pick. Probably a 10-20 pick, but let's say this is where the Steelers start to have a chance. Would Baker be worth waiting until next year?

Luke Falk, Washington State: Plays in an Air-raid style offense (sound familiar) and put up ungodly numbers along with a 70% comp. percentage. 4500 yards, 38 TD's, 11 INT's. Probably a mid-1st round pick as well.

Jake Browning, Washington (anyone noticing a BIG PAC-12 pattern here,? Here's a Nice article on their QB's) is my other favorites in this draft. As it stands this is who I would hope to get but if he continues to progress I foresee him being a top 15 pick as well.

Josh Allen, Wyoming: Could be next years "Carson Wentz" because he's big, plays in the FCS, and comes from one of those states virtually no one can pick out on a map (come on, you know i'm right). He's interesting in terms of his ability, and could be a mid-to-late 1st round pick. So hard to project these things a year in advance. CONS: he has consistency issues and plays in the FCS.

Lamar Jackson: Very athletic. Probably a top 30 pick. Could easily become the Deshaun Watson (or better) of the 2018 draft. Doesn’t really fit our style of offense though IMO.

Here's a JETS Article that details the class of 2018 in more detail as does this one.


Now, you may be saying "but what about so and so" but as it stands my magic mirror says that these QB's are the best in the land. If you can think of other 1st round talent I forgot to mention let me know.

So Let's recap:

Darnold and Rosen are on the "never gonna happen" list off the bat.

Rudolph, Falk, Mayfield, and Browning, provided they have good 2017 seasons, are probably also out of reach, but could be a "move up" if we want to fork over the picks to do it.

This means we're looking at QB's like Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, and Max Browne (USC transfer to PITT, let's see how that goes before we anoint him). And this is really the whole argument. Is there a QB who belongs in this group (let's say the 3rd tier) in 2018 who represents more upside than Mahomes does this year? That's really the main point I'm trying to make.

The "win now" camp bases it's entire argument on going to a Super Bowl (and winning it) which by default means we pick 32nd, or close to it, in 2018. So in a way you've just shot yourself in the foot if you succeed by drafting the talent needed to win a SB in 2017 (not that I'd be complaining, it's a nice problem to have, but for the purposes of getting a QB in 2018 we'd be screwed).

Here's a 2018 mock draft from Draftutopia (yes already, I know right) that shows 6 QB’s taken within the first 11 picks and 8 overall before the Steelers are on the board!!!

And this takes into considerable teams taking QB's this year in 2017 and not needing them next year.

Now, deny this draft all you want but it’s important to note this guy has the Steelers going to the Super Bowl (and beating the Pats to do it) next year so I gotta say, I like his taste, even though he thinks we'll lose to Seattle.

I know it's nearly impossible to project who will be taken my point here is this:

REASON 5: Here are too many teams who will likely finish below the Steelers in 2018 and need a franchise QB. I count eleven right now (could be more or less n 2018) but not very many will be in the mood to trade away their pick if the right QB is staring them in the face.

49ers, Jets, Bills, Browns, Bears, Vikings, Redskins, Cardinals, Broncos, Texans, even Jacksonville

Yes, some will draft QB's in 2017, so depending on how they work out we'll see which teams we can check off from that list. Here are teams that have good, franchise QB's, but they are getting old and could pull an "Aaron Rodgers" and take a QB just like us. Giants, Saints, and Chargers.

So we've got a math problem.

14 possible teams picking before the Steelers in 2018 and only about 8 QB's who (right now) fall into 1st round worthiness. Could be a mad scramble for QB's in 2018 if they are as good as everyone says they are, and if a college QB is elite enough to escape all scrutiny the Steelers would likely have to trade a massive amount of draft capital just to be in contention to smell him.

Sadly, as long as we keep vying for championships we are going to have to take risks on a QB with some flaws, so it's either wait for Ben to say goodbye and tank with Landry at the helm, or pull the trigger on a Mahomes-like QB with big upside but also bust potential.

If the choice is between taking a Mahomes-like QB this year, or take a Mahomes-like QB next year, give me him this year. More time to develop and see if he's worthy to inherent the helm.

Now, time for some of that healthy discussion.

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