What a story that Devlin Hodges was supposed to be, huh?
The little known Samford product, who came to Pittsburgh this offseason as an undrafted free agent, was going to make the Steelers roster as the third-string quarterback, eventually rise to the top of the depth chart and be a true heir apparent to Ben Roethlisberger.
At least that was easy for us to say when reports of Hodges, who set the FCS career passing yards record with 14,584, functioning really well at training camp began to surface. Then, he played in the preseason and looked comfortable enough to make us think he absolutely was an upgrade over Joshua Dobbs, yesterday’s news, a guy who once had our hearts as the little engine that could underdog quarterback story.
Dobbs was uniquely smart for a college football player (a literal rocket scientist, we liked to say after learning that he majored in aerospace engineering while at Tennessee), while Hodges came to town with a refreshing story of his own: He won a duck calling contest way back in 2009. This earned him the nickname of Duck Dynasty (not the most clever nickname ever, but it fit for football purposes).
This past preseason, Dobbs was the new Landry Jones, a quarterback who didn’t show any real improvement from his rookie year to his third. Meanwhile, Hodges, with his rare poise for a rookie UDFA, was the Dobbs of 2017, only with more upside (the players of today always have more upside).
There was no way Hodges wasn’t going to make the final cut, even after he looked rather helpless playing behind the sieve that was the Steelers offensive line made up of future insurance salesmen in the preseason finale against the Panthers last Thursday evening.
Unfortunately for Hodges, he didn’t make the Steelers final roster; Dobbs did, even though he has been demoted back to his rookie position on the quarterback depth chart.
So, Hodges is still going to go on to be a great story in the NFL for someone, right? Yeah, he very well could catch on somewhere else and torture current Steelers fans much like Johnny Unitas, who didn’t make the cut in 1955 after being drafted in the ninth round, tortured those fans of the pre-Noll era.
He could, but it’s probably not likely. This isn’t to say it won’t happen, it’s just that the odds are pretty low.
But that’s what makes great stories, right? Who saw Tom Brady and his six Super Bowls coming back in 2001?
Unfortunately for the Steelers, they can’t concern themselves with a potential great story. They can’t worry about a quarterback project. They can’t listen to the white noise of the Internet. It’s their job to keep who they think are the 53 best players for 2019.
While we might view the third-string quarterback as an afterthought—just a place on the depth chart where you can stash the all-time FCS passing yards leader and his untapped potential—the Steelers probably don’t see things that way.
In their minds, they probably wanted to keep Dobbs around because, for one thing, he still has two years left on his rookie contract, which means there’s still time for his rocket scientist brain to get his rocket arm to do what he wants it to do. Secondly, it’s his third year in the system, which means he may be more suitable than Hodges to function as the backup quarterback on one week’s notice if the unmentionable happens and Roethlisberger has to miss time with an injury.
It’s always at a time like this when Steelers fans (or any fans, really) talk themselves into thinking the player their team just let go will come back to town and haunt them.
But, again, those odds, they’re pretty low. A long-shot story is called that for a reason.
If Devlin Hodges turns out to be just that, oh well. The Steelers will have to answer their critics then.
Right now, they have to answer to the people that want them to win a Super Bowl in 2019. Obviously, they feel as if Joshua Dobbs is one of the 53 players capable of helping them reach that goal.