It's no secret that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has played with more than his share of injuries over the years. But after another season that saw Roethlisberger miss games (three full ones, to be exact), leading to the Steelers missing the postseason this year, Pittsburgh appears ready to at least consider the future in this year's upcoming NFL Draft.
According to a report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (via NFL.com on Thursday), Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said the team will have no reservations about drafting a quarterback with their 17th overall pick in the first round, should the right fit be on the board.
Here's Colbert, speaking to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
"We won't close the door on any position in any round. We can't ... Once we get into free agency and the draft, I don't see any position that's off limits."
Roethlisberger was selected by the Steelers in the first round at No. 11 overall in the first round in 2004. This season, when Roethlisberger was battling his various ailments, he was replaced by either Charlie Batch or Byron Leftwich, who are not exactly in the prime of their careers at this point.
Of late, there has been some precedent for teams taking a quarterback early in the draft while having a starter in place. In the 2012 NFL Draft, the Seattle Seahawks and Philadelphia Eagles each did something of that nature. The Eagles, wary of quarterback Michael Vick's ability to stay healthy, selected Nick Foles from Arizona in the third round. Foles, with Vick out with injuries, played in five games this season.
Seattle, on the other hand, had just finished signing free agent quarterback Matt Flynn, formerly a backup to Aaron Rodgers with the Green Bay Packers, in the offseason when they elected to take quarterback Russell Wilson from Wisconsin in the third round. Though Flynn was believed to be the starter going into the season, Wilson beat him out in training camp, leading the Seahawks to the divisional round of the NFC playoffs.
Rodgers is one of the more infamous examples of this as well. After slipping to the Packers slot at No. 24 overall in the 2005 NFL Draft, Green Bay selected him as the heir apparent to Brett Favre, eventually leading to all of the craziness that unfolded in subsequent years between Favre's retirements and returns and Green Bay's steadfast siding with Rodgers, a decision that ultimately led to a Super Bowl title in 2010.