Throughout the 2022 offseason, Steelers fans were informed about the team'sdesire to have four quarterbacks on the roster going into training camp. With the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger there was going to be some change at the position simply from a numbers perspective.
After the tragic death of Dwayne Haskins, the Steelers were left with just Mason Rudolph as the only returning quarterback on the roster. Between free agency and the draft, the Steelers were going to make three additions.
After the Steelers came away with Mitch Trubisky very early in free agency, the question of the other two roster spots came down to the draft, undrafted rookie free agents, or another free agent pickup. It was not surprising the Steelers selected a quarterback in the 2022 NFL draft, and they did so with their first-round pick when Kenny Pickett was available at number 20. There were some in Steelers’ Nation who were surprised when the Steelers double-dipped at the quarterback position and drafted Chris Oladokun with their final selection in the seventh round.
For many Steelers’ fans, using a draft pick on a second quarterback meant a lot more than having a fourth player going into training camp. For others like myself, I view seventh-round draft picks as basically undrafted free agents who the Steelers don’t want to have to fight over once the draft concludes. Some saw Chris Oladokun as a player who is here so the Steelers could shop one of their other quarterbacks, particularly Mason Rudolph. But at this stage of the preseason, Oladokun has not been given an opportunity to show what he brings at the quarterback position in a team setting.
According to the reports from Steelers training camp, Chris Oladokun has not participated in any of the team activities thus far. He has not been given a single play in “7 shots” and he hasn’t been commanding the huddle against a defensive unit at any other time. For this reason, many Steelers’ fans are wondering why the team bothered to draft Oladokun if he isn’t getting an opportunity in training camp.
For me, this goes to show why the Steeler used a draft pick on a quarterback rather than just see who they could get as an undrafted free agent or a cheap signing in free agency. Knowing the team already had three players who were fighting for the position, what incentive would a player have to sign with the Steelers knowing that they would likely be standing on the sidelines more than anything? If Chris Oladokun would not have been drafted and instead was a free agent, would there really be a reason for him to want to sign with the team that drafted the first quarterback this season and also signed a player who many believed was the biggest free agent at the position?
There’s still a lot of time left in training camp, and the Steelers are eventually going to have to give some playing time to Chris Oladokun. It’s not like he’s going to be thrown into a preseason game without even getting any teamwork trails. But at this rate, he isn’t likely to see the field for the Steelers first preseason game this coming Saturday.
With the Steelers wanting to give as many snaps as possible to Mitch Trubisky, Mason Rudolph, and Kenny Pickett to show what they can bring as the Steelers starting quarterback, there just hasn’t been much left for another player so far Being the first year were Mike Tomlin didn’t have Ben Roethlisberger as his quarterback going in the training camp, perhaps the Steelers underestimated how many snaps would need to go to the top three candidates. Additionally, in recent years Ben Roethlisberger practiced infrequently during training camp as he generally took the schedule of a padded practice, an unpadded practice, and a day off. With the Steelers primary quarterback giving up a lot of reps that became available in training camp, there seemed to be a lot more to go around. After a week and a half of practice in 2022, this hasn’t been the case.
While the Steelers are figuring out the best way to get snaps to their quarterbacks in training camp, it’s Chris Oladokun who appears to be the one suffering the most. He’s under contract with the Steelers, but not getting any team activities to show either the Steelers or any other interested NFL teams what he can do. Instead, all he can do is be patient and wait for his opportunity.
According to Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, the Steelers are not asking Oladokun to be patient. When asked about the Steelers fourth quarterback last Wednesday following practice, Tomlin did his best to offer some encouragement.
“When you’re ‘in the fourth quarterback slot,’ you had better be continually working while you wait for your opportunity,” Tomlin stated. “This is not a patient man’s business; we’re not going to ask him to be patient. We will ask him to work while he waits. We’ve had others in the past in that scenario. I talked to [Oladokun] a lot about Joshua Dobbs, who was in a similar scenario years ago, didn’t get many opportunities, stormed on at the finish and made the roster. So, [Oladokun] has that as an example if he needs encouragement.”
Although Coach Tomlin‘s example of Joshua Dobbs is interesting, there’s also a huge difference between a fourth-round draft pick and a seventh-round draft pick. In my eyes, I always looked at players drafted in the first four rounds as being mostly guaranteed to make the roster and it would be a big deal if they did not. Round five is a bit of a gray area where it would be surprising if someone doesn’t make it but it’s more known to happen. As for Rounds 6 or 7, those players get cut without making a 53-man roster all the time. Based on this, seeing how tough it was for Joshua Dobbs to get a chance as a fourth-round draft pick and making the team doesn’t seem encouraging to me.
Hopefully the opportunities for Chris Oladokun come soon, for his sake. Being drafted by team only to not be given a realistic opportunity to make the roster seems like a pretty raw deal. Even the fans who believe the Steelers would trade away one of their other quarterbacks, Oladokun still has to show that he would be a capable player for the Steelers to keep as their third option to make the move. If Oladokun doesn’t have a large body of work, that’s a difficult thing to do. And for those who think the Steelers are merely trying to stash Oladokun the practice squad, the only time the Steelers have carried a fourth quarterback for the season on the practice squad was during the unusual circumstances of 2020.
For now, the lack of playing time for Chris Oladokun is a story. Hopefully it’s one that will go away sooner than later.