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If the Steelers would have drafted Lamar Jackson in 2018, would he have earned All-Pro honors?

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The Steelers passed on Jackson in favor of Terrell Edmunds, but would he have seen the same success had he landed in Pittsburgh?

Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

With Terrell Edmunds being the statistical weakest link in the Steeler secondary in 2019, I’m often reminded by various commenters that the Steelers could have had Lamar Jackson in his place. Yes, the Steelers chose to address the needed safety rather than draft a back-up quarterback in the first round 2018. I’ve gone on record as saying I wanted the Steelers to draft Mason Rudolph in the first round even though they were able to get him in the third. But this is not a debate as to who the Steelers should have drafted with their first pick almost 2 years ago. The question I wonder is if Lamar Jackson would have had near the success he had in Baltimore in 2019 had he been playing in Pittsburgh.

The Steelers fans are not the only team who could ask this question. Pretty much every team can ask the same thing as Jackson was taken with the very last pick in the first round of the draft. Of course there were a few teams who did not have a first-round pick in 2018, but otherwise every team had the opportunity to select Jackson. In fact, four teams selected quarterbacks instead of the former Heisman Trophy winner. But this site is dedicated to the Pittsburgh Steelers, so I’m asking the question as to how Jackson would fit into the Steelers plans.

This question isn’t even as much about the “what if” of the situation as being a topic to think about how much a player’s fit in a certain situation can help determine their NFL success or lack thereof. For the purpose of this exercise, we are simply going to swap out Lamar Jackson with Mason Rudolph. I know Rudolph was taken in the third round, but we’re trying to make this as simple as possible. In essence, place Lamar Jackson in the shoes of Mason Rudolph and see how things would’ve played out of Pittsburgh.

Here are my thoughts…

Although he may very well had the opportunity to move ahead of Joshua Dobbs as the back up to Ben Roethlisberger in 2018, I’m going to assume Jackson would not have taken a single snap his rookie season. Instead, let’s say Lamar Jackson was the player that took over for Ben Roethlisberger at halftime of Week 2 of the 2019 season. Would Jackson have seen the same success he did in Baltimore, or would he have struggled much like Rudolph and Devlin Hodges did for the Steelers for the remainder of the season?

First of all, Jackson would not be coming into 2019 with seven starts under his belt like he did in Baltimore. To say this wouldn’t factor into the equation would be silly. So there would be one thing working against Jackson coming into play in 2019 in Pittsburgh.

Personally, I do not feel that Jackson would be anywhere close to the All-Pro player he’s been in Baltimore if he were playing in Pittsburgh. First off, Ravens’ offense of coordinator Greg Roman has designed his offense around Jackson’s strength. It is not the typical coaches choice of an offense to run, so Roman has showed he is willing to adapt to his player strengths in order to succeed.

For the 14 ana a half games the Steelers played without Ben Roethlisberger in 2019, offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner seemed to do little to adapt to the different players the Steelers were forced to utilize. Yes, they used the wildcat in a few places, but don’t mistake gimmicks for creativity. It all, the offense the Steelers were attempting to run in Week 17 appeared very similar to that in Week 2.

Perhaps coach Fichtner believed the players he had were close enough in style to Ben Roethlisberger in order to keep everything the same. But the offensive output seemed to be a red flag of the situation, and yet week in and week out Fichtner appeared to be running the same offense and hoping this time it would work. Nothing he did would give me reason to believe that if he were coaching Lamar Jackson at quarterback he would do anything different than run the scheme he is comfortable with.

Lamar Jackson is a fantastic talent. But just because a player is talented doesn’t mean they fit into every mold. What is helping to make Lamar Jackson thrive is the system he is being asked to run. And he is running extremely well.

Therefore, I do not believe Lamar Jackson would have been anywhere close in the realm of success had he been playing in Pittsburgh in 2019 rather than Baltimore. I feel the Steelers look for talented players who fit into their system rather than look for the most talented players and adapt their system to their player strengths. I could be completely off-base, but this is the gut feeling I got after the 2019 season.

Before turning it over for you all to give your opinions, I do want to clarify that I do think Lamar Jackson would have helped the Steelers to a better record in 2019. I just don’t think he would have put up the All-Pro numbers the way the Steelers would have utilized him.

So what are your thoughts? Do you believe Lamar Jackson would have been just as successful with the Steelers as he was in Baltimore in 2019? Do you think he may have struggled much like the other young quarterbacks? Make sure you answer the poll and leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Poll

Would Lamar Jackson have put up All-Pro numbers in 2019 had he been playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers?

This poll is closed

  • 69%
    No, he would have been asked to run a different style of offense which wouldn’t have allowed him to thrive
    (297 votes)
  • 15%
    Yes, a great player is going to be great wherever he plays
    (67 votes)
  • 4%
    Forget being All-Pro, he would have been even better had he been drafted by the Steelers!
    (20 votes)
  • 10%
    All of these choices are terrible, so I have nowhere else to click but here
    (46 votes)
430 votes total Vote Now