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Pittsburgh Steelers rumors: GM high on surprise Ben Roethlisberger successor

Matt Fitzgerald
2022 NFL free agents: Ben Roethlisberger
Nov 3, 2019; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) reacts on the sidelines against the Indianapolis Colts during the third quarter at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh won 26-24. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is probably playing his final season this year, but his heir apparent may not be on the roster just yet.

General manager Kevin Colbert is reportedly eyeing a 2021 NFL Draft prospect as Big Ben’s eventual replacement, as opposed to newly acquired 2019 first-rounder Dwayne Haskins and incumbent Mason Rudolph.

Pittsburgh Steelers rumors: Kyle Trask may replace Ben Roethlisberger at QB

The Florida Gators star who finished second in passing yards and first in the nation with 43 touchdown tosses last season is said to be catching the eye of Colbert, according to CBS Sports insider Jason La Canfora:

“There is [a] sense among some other general managers that the Steelers could very well invest a fairly high draft pick on a passer. The name I hear the most in scouting circles is Florida’s Kyle Trask.

[…] ‘I’ve known Kevin [Colbert] a long time and the more I see of this kid the more I see him in a Steelers uniform,’ one GM told me. ‘He looks the part.'”

CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora on Pittsburgh Steelers’ interest in Kyle Trask

Roethlisberger just restructured his contract to alleviate Pittsburgh’s salary cap burden, as he was due to cost over $41 million in what would’ve been the final year of his prior deal.

Getting a new signal-caller on a rookie contract is ideal in the modern NFL, but the Steelers already have two viable in-house options in Haskins and Rudolph. It’s notable that Colbert and the front office are still exhausting all their options at the position, as there hasn’t really been a viable Big Ben succession plan in place to date.

Related: NFL mock draft 2023 – CJ Stroud, Bryce Young headline outstanding 2023 NFL Draft class

Assessing Kyle Trask’s fit with Pittsburgh Steelers

Philadelphia Eagles draft Kyle Trask
Dec 30, 2020; Arlington, TX, USA; Florida Gators quarterback Kyle Trask (11) throws a pass against the Oklahoma Sooners in the second quarter at ATT Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

One thing that’s obvious from watching Florida play in 2020 was how loaded the supporting cast was around Trask. He had the benefit of throwing to a matchup nightmare in tight end Kyle Pitts, who’s really more of a wide receiver in a tight end’s body. Pitts is indubitably going to be a first-round pick — perhaps even in the top five or 10.

Then there was breakout receiver Kadarius Toney, who was always a threat to score any time he touched the ball. Toney is also receiving first-round hype from the draft community.

When Toney and Pitts both sat out the Gators’ postseason finale, Trask struggled in a 55-20 loss to Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl, throwing three interceptions in a woeful performance that torpedoed his draft stock.

Prior to that clunker, some were saying Trask was worthy of a first- or second-round selection. Now, he’s talked about as a late Day 2 or early Day 3 pick.

Trask has an impressive build at 6-foot-5, 240 pounds — similar to Roethlisberger, in fact. He’s got a strong arm, which is key in Pittsburgh as the elements are often a factor. A combination of velocity, precision and downfield touch allowed Trask to fit balls into small spots, per PFF College:

His 68.9% completion rate obviously featured plenty of deeper throws, so Trask is definitely able to sling it with the best in the 2021 class.

The bigger concern is about Trask’s lack of mobility. Although he climbs the pocket well enough, he can’t really extend plays with his legs and may struggle if the Steelers weren’t to upgrade their NFL-worst running game from a season ago in short order.

Even though he had a loaded supporting cast in college, Trask did do his damage in the SEC, which is impressive on its own. Pittsburgh has several young weapons in its receiving corps in Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson and James Washington, so it’s not the worst situation to walk into.

Granted, if he were to land with the Steelers, Trask would need to beat out Rudolph and Haskins for the right to eventually supplant Big Ben atop the depth chart. Given his skill set and lack of red flags from this past year other than a dud bowl performance, maybe Trask will be one of the steals of the draft if Pittsburgh can get him.

Read More: Pittsburgh Steelers draft picks: Top 2021 selections, ideal prospects to target