As many should have figured out by now, the Steelers32 writing team is in the middle of highlighting 20 prospects in 20 days; leading up to the draft. The word intriguing may not describe our sixth prospect well enough as the team highlights Tennessee quarterback, Joshua Dobbs.
Many fans may be confused by the way Ben Roethlisberger’s situation has been playing out this offseason. Are we to believe Roethlisberger may be done after this season? Are the Steelers really looking for his replacement in this weak quarterback class?
All the above questions have been asked many times to no avail as Mike Tomlin and Steelers’ brass may be providing another smoke-screen. However, smoke-screen or not aside, the Steelers could still draft a quarterback in this year’s draft. If the higher-ups choose not to grab a quarterback in the earlier rounds, Dobbs may be readily available to be selected in the sixth round.
Even with Roethlisberger announcing his return to the team in 2017, the Steelers still may want to draft a potential replacement. At the very least, Dobbs would provide the Steelers with an athletic backup all the while learning behind one of the best of all time.
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Mixed in with the rest of the intrigue surrounding Dobbs is the fact the Steelers have reportedly met with the quarterback multiple times. Again, the pre-draft meetings could always be a smoke screen; however, if a team meets with a prospect multiple times, they like what they see.
Dobbs capped off an up-and-down career at Tennessee by destroying Nebraska’s defense with 409 total yards and four combined touchdowns in the Music City Bowl. Dobbs finished his final year with 2,946 yards passing, 831 yards rushing and 39 total touchdowns.
The 6-foot-3-inch tall, 216 pound former Volunteer had himself a NFL Scouting Combine for the ages; finishing top three among quarterbacks in four categories. Everyone knew Dobbs was athletic, they just were not aware of how athletic until his abilities were on display.
Many scouts took more notice of Dobbs after his Tennessee pro-day workout displayed his finesse on the ball to go with his tight spiral. The biggest knock on Dobbs would be his throws were too easy to catch; throwing 29 interceptions in college.
What does the film say?
After watching Dobbs face Texas A&M, his release and mechanics may be just as strong as his running ability. However, it is Dobbs’ tendency to stick to his first pre-snap target that ultimately doomed him and the Volunteers in that double overtime loss.
Dobbs’ mental tenacity and ability to keep his teams close in tough games during the 2016 season, deserves more attention. The Volunteers played in the tight SEC yet only one game versus Alabama left Dobbs searching for answers. Although Dobbs came close to defeating Alabama in 2015, it was his last-second mistake that doomed his team.
Dobbs’ footwork, body positioning and arm strength are definite positives; his tendency to run before he should, is not. If Dobbs wants to make it in the NFL, he will need to use his vast intellect to absorb as much information as he can. Since he happens to be an aerospace engineer major, nobody will put anything past this kid.
Although nothing says Dobbs cannot become a starter in the NFL, he needs some time before anyone will call him an opening-day starter. Cbssports.com projects Dobbs as a sixth-round selection; if a team likes what they see, he could go as high as the fourth round.
This writer is a little higher than most are on Dobbs due to his big-game ability and accuracy on the deep ball. Dobbs did complete 47.7 percent of his passes 21-plus yards down field while at Tennessee.
Due to the lack of top-tier depth as far as talent goes in this year’s class, Dobbs’ current projection is a late fifth-round selection. A team like the Steelers could easily use a late-round selection on Dobbs and let him sit a year or two to develop.
Landry Jones seemingly is not the answer to the ever-popular question as to whom will take over for Roethlisberger. Replacing Jones on the depth chart is not a priority; yet, to appease the masses, the Steelers may want to bring in some young competition.
The Steelers are hoping to win the Super Bowl this year and worry about Big Ben’s replacement another day. However, if they are in the market for a late-round possible gem with enormous upside, Dobbs will be the guy to look toward.
Although I have Dobbs slated as the Steelers’ sixth-round selection in my first mock of the season, he may not be there when they draft. Steelers’ history has its fair share of multi-faceted athletic quarterbacks; if the current regime wishes to continue that trend, Dobbs will be wearing black and gold this season.
Justin Ekstrom covers the NFL and the Pittsburgh Steelers for cover32, be sure to follow along on Twitter and Facebook. Be sure to check back daily to see the remaining 14 prospects as we work our way closer to the 2017 NFL Draft.
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