Pro Football Focus analyst and former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Bruce Gradkowski has ranked all 32 starting quarterback ahead of the 2021 season.
While he may have played alongside Ben Roethlisberger, Gradkowski pulled no punches in his assessment of his 39-year-old former teammate, ranking him as the 16th-best starting quarterback in the league.
Pittsburgh’s implosion to end the 2020 season has shaken Gradkowski’s confidence in Roethlisberger.
“Ben Roethlisberger proved his toughness by coming back at 38 years old after elbow surgery and helping the Steelers to an 11-0 start,” Gradkowski wrote. “But something just didn’t seem right during that hot streak, and Pittsburgh finished the year 1-5 in its last six games.”
Gradkowski thinks that new Steelers offensive coordinator Matt Canada can maximize Roethlisberger’s talents in what could be his final season, mainly by returning to play-action and generating more explosive plays.
“New offensive coordinator Matt Canada has a tall task in trying to figure out what will make this offense tick. Roethlisberger ranked last out of 36 qualifying quarterbacks on play-action attempts last season,” Gradkowski wrote. “He subsequently led the league in shotgun pass attempts (640) and pass attempts under 10 yards. He did a decent job of getting the ball out of his hand quickly, but it didn’t translate into many explosive plays, as the Steelers ranked 26th in explosive pass-play percentage (11.7%).”
Notable quarterbacks Gradkowski ranked ahead of Roethlisberger include the Ravens’ Lamar Jackson, Browns’ Baker Mayfield, Vikings’ Kirk Cousins and Chargers’ Justin Herbert.
Roethlisberger passed for 3,803 yards and 33 touchdowns with ten interceptions a season ago. He also completed 65.6% of his passes and was sacked a career-low 13 times.