Steelers already eyeing Ben Roethlisberger’s successor in 2021 NFL Draft?

By Matt Johnson
Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are only two weeks into the 2020 season, but the team looks like a Super Bowl contender with a healthy Ben Roethlisberger backed by a great defense. While Roethlisberger is Pittsburgh’s quarterback this season, they might already be thinking about the future.

While the 2020 NFL Draft class offered some great talent at the quarterback position, the 2021 NFL Draft is loaded with even more greatness at the position. Even outside of Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields, several other quarterbacks will have a shot to be first-round picks.

Even with the 2021 NFL Draft months away, could the Steelers already be a team to watch to make a big move to land Roethlisberger’s successor?

Steelers eyeing a quarterback in 2021 NFL Draft?

Entering Week 3 with a 2-0 record and a great chance to maintain their undefeated record on Sunday, it’s unlikely the Steelers even have a top-20 pick next spring. While that would seemingly take them out of the running for top quarterback prospects, that may not be the case.

While many NFL evaluators and coaches are focused on the ongoing season, agents and executives around the league are thinking ahead to the 2021 NFL Draft. In a quarterback-rich class, there is already a belief in the NFL that Pittsburgh might get aggressive in finding its quarterback of the future.

“When I talk to teams to get a feel for the quarterback market, the most common team mentioned as needing a quarterback is Pittsburgh,”¬†an NFL agent said, via Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller. “There is a very strong belief that they add a Round 1 quarterback and would be willing to trade up to get one.”

A big move is possible even if the Steelers are picking in the 20-25 range. During the 2019 NFL Draft, Pittsburgh traded the No. 20 pick, plus a 2019 second-round selection and 2020 third-round pick to the Denver Broncos to jump up to No. 10 for linebacker Devin Bush.

Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert isn’t afraid to be aggressive, especially when it comes to moving to acquire a player he believes in. We saw that mindset during the 2019 season when he traded the team’s 2020 first-round pick for safety Minkah Fitzpatrick.

There’s little chance a player like Fields or Lawrence will be within Pittsburgh’s reach, even via trade. Both franchise-caliber talents are projected top-five picks in the latest 2021 mock drafts.

2021 NFL mock draft: Latest look at a loaded draft class

However, North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance could be in play. He starred at the FCS powerhouse in 2019 with 2,786 passing yards, a 28-0 TD-INT ratio and 1,100 rushing yards with 14 scores on the ground. North Dakota State will play one game this year, a showcase for Lance and his teammates against Central Arkansas on Oct. 3.

Lance could be the quarterback Pittsburgh’s front office falls in love with and pays a huge price to jump up and land. He’d also be a suitable option to sit behind Roethlisberger for the 2021 season. If it’s not lance, Jamie Newman could be another option for the Steelers. He opted out of the 2020 college football season, but offers intriguing upside and a strong offseason might push him into the conversation as a first-round pick.