When the Pittsburgh Steelers selected quarterback Mason Rudolph in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft, many analysts felt it meant the team was ready to move on from former Tennessee Vols quarterback Josh Dobbs.
Maybe that was the Steelers’ plan, but Dobbs has performed well enough to alter those plans.
Dobbs, who was selected by Pittsburgh in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft, beat out Rudolph and Landry Jones (who was released) last summer for the Steelers’ backup quarterback job.
Rudolph, who is widely viewed as the heir to Ben Roethlisberger, served as Pittsburgh’s No. 3 quarterback last season.
Dobbs won the backup job after a solid preseason showing that included a successful performance against the Carolina Panthers (8-for-12 for 151 yards and a touchdown, as well as a rushing touchdown).
The battle to serve as Roethlisberger’s backup is expected to once again be an open competition in 2019. And Rudolph has already made it known that he’s gunning for the spot, recently telling reporters “That’s the goal, to be there, help this team prepare in that backup spot”.
Dobbs doesn’t seem bothered by Rudolph’s desire to pass him on the depth chart, saying “You still have to show up for work, compete on a day-to-day basis, figure out a way to get better”. He added “It’s the same mindset, no matter what the position is, no matter who is in the room”.
What does the longterm future hold for Dobbs in Pittsburgh?
The former Vol received a big compliment from an important figure in Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert, who recently said “He (Dobbs) forced his way on the roster and the No. 2 spot by hard work and big plays when we needed him”.
Dobbs played in five games for the Steelers last season (mostly in brief relief of Roethlisberger). One of his key moments in 2018 came against the Baltimore Ravens, when Dobbs completed a 22 yard pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster that kept the drive alive for the Steelers.
Moving forward, I think it’s clear that Rudolph is no longer the unquestioned heir to Roethlisberger (as evidenced by the recent extension signed by Big Ben that keeps him in Pittsburgh through 2021).
It feels like the Steelers took Dobbs in 2017 because of his upside. But they took Rudolph, specifically, to eventually replace Roethlisberger.
However, Dobbs is showing he was worth the investment in 2017. And with the way the NFL game (and quarterback position) is changing, it’s possible that Pittsburgh wants to give Dobbs a legitimate chance to eventually win the starting job.
While no one is going to confuse Dobbs for Patrick Mahomes anytime soon, Dobbs would at least give the Steelers an athletic option that could open up their playbook a bit.
No one knows what the future holds for the quarterback position in Pittsburgh. But we know that Dobbs has certainly given the Steelers plenty to consider in the coming years.
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