Tomlin: Steelers to Hold QB Competition with Trubisky, Rudolph, More?
Mitch Trubisky is going to have to earn the Steelers starting quarterback spot, according to head coach Mike Tomlin, and the competition could also include a rookie.
“There certainly will be competition,” said Tomlin in an interview with Missi Matthews.. “We’d be naive not to take that approach. That being said, we’re excited about acquiring Mitch (Trubisky). We do believe that he has the talent to win the job, but he’s going to have to win it.”
It seems unlikely that Trubisky won’t be the starting quarterback in Week 1 after agreeing to a significant free agent contract, but the talk about a competition at the quarterback position echoes what Tomlin and the Steelers have been saying since the season has ended.
Trubisky is the quarterback with the most experience on the roster. He and Mason Rudolph entered the NFL in 2017, but Trubisky went 29-21 as a starter with the Chicago Bears. He led the team to a playoff berth in 2018, when he also got a pro bowl nod.
Rudolph was asked about the quarterback situation in an interview with Rich Eisen on the latter’s show. Rudolph never said where he thought he landed on the depth chart, but did say that he was excited to get more first-team reps in practice.
“Experience is the biggest teacher, right?” Said Rudolph. “I got a lot of practice reps with Ben, sometimes he’d practice half Thursday, Friday, sometimes I’d have the Wednesday, Thursday reps to keep myself sharp. In case I needed to be sharp.”
When Eisen said that he didn’t want to put Rudolph on the spot by leading Rudolph into saying that he deserved more reps, Rudolph downplayed any notion of deserving the reps given his role as the back-up to Roethlisberger for the past four seasons.
“Oh no no,” said Rudolph. “You just asked me, so I said reps are great. Who wouldn’t want reps?”
Dwayne Haskins is also being considered for the starting job as stated by Tomlin, though anyone on the outside can see that it will be tougher for him to earn the starting job than Rudolph or Trubisky given Haskins’ extremely short and bad tenure with the Washington Commanders, then known as the Washington Redskins and the Washington Football Team.
Despite being a first round pick, Haskins was cut midway through his second season after a series of off-the-field issues led to him losing his captaincy. On-the-field he wasn’t any better, going 3-10 as a starter with 14 interceptions thrown to just 12 touchdowns.
The quarterback competition will not be limited to just those three though as the Steelers do plan on bringing in a fourth quarterback, with the intention of drafting one. Tomlin said this on Sunday, a day after Kevin Colbert said that the signing of Trubisky didn’t alter the Steelers draft plans at the quarterback position.
“Probably the draft,” said Tomlin when asked where that fourth quarterback will come from. “I think is our target, as we sit here today. There’s so many moving parts in draft development, but that’s our target.”
There’s no reason to doubt that the Steelers don’t plan on taking a quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft. Tomlin, Colbert and even owner Art Rooney II have been spotted at various pro days for rookie quarterbacks. The Steelers have notably been present for Kenny Pickett’s, Malik Willis’, Desmond Ridder’s and Matt Corral’s pro day. Colbert is expected to attend North Carolina’s pro day where he will see Sam Howell and there is a chance they attend Western Kentucky’s pro day to see Bailey Zappe.
All of those quarterbacks are likely to be gone in the early rounds and there’s no guarantee that the Steelers will draft a quarterback with their first round pick. In fact, with many holes still to be filled on the roster, it’s unknown if/when the Steelers would draft a quarterback.
Even though it’s tough to envision anyone but Trubisky behind center in week one, all signs point towards the Steelers having a serious battle for the starting position.