Can Steelers develop Landry Jones?

May, 6, 2013
5/06/13
7:35
PM ET
Quarterback Landry Jones has only completed a rookie minicamp and he's already being asked whether he's going to replace Ben Roethlisberger.

"I have no idea," Jones said, via the Associated Press. "You might want to talk to the coaches or Mr. Rooney on that one, what they want to do."

The more appropriate question is whether the Steelers are going to be able to develop Jones. He was a highly decorated quarterback at Oklahoma, but the Steelers' track record at grooming young quarterbacks isn't as impressive.

Since Kevin Colbert joined the Steelers in 2000 as director of football operations (assumed title of general manager in 2010), Pittsburgh has drafted six quarterbacks, including Jones last month. Roethlisberger, a first-round pick in 2004, has won two Super Bowls. Four others, all drafted in the fifth round, never established themselves as a long-term backup. This has allowed Charlie Batch to remain with the team for so long.
  • Tee Martin, a 2000 fifth-round pick out of Tennessee, is notable for the fact that he's one of six quarterbacks drafted before Tom Brady that year. He lasted two seasons with the Steelers and never threw a pass in the regular season.
  • Brian St. Pierre, a 2003 fifth-round pick out of Boston College, was cut more times by the Steelers (three total) than games played for them (one).
  • Omar Jacobs, a 2006 fifth-round pick out of Bowling Green, never made the active roster. He currently plays for the Wichita Falls Nighthawks of the Professional American Football League.
  • Dennis Dixon, a 2008 fifth-round pick out of Oregon, had the most staying power of these quarterbacks but he was primarily the No. 3 quarterback during his four seasons in Pittsburgh. Dixon did make three starts, winning two. He has since reunited with college coach Chip Kelly in Philadelphia.

The Steelers are trying again with Jones, who was drafted in the fourth round. Pittsburgh will likely use him as a third quarterback this year behind Roethlisberger and Bruce Gradkowski, who signed a three-year deal this offseason to be the primary backup. Based on their history, the Steelers would be pleased if Jones eventually becomes the No. 2 quarterback.

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter

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