Is Landry Jones the Heir Apparent to Ben Roethlisberger?

Chris Trapasso@ChrisTrapassoAnalyst IApril 30, 2013

As expected, there was a run on quarterbacks in the 2013 NFL draft.

It just happened in Round 4 instead of Round 1. 


In that unique round on Day 3, Landry Jones was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers after Matt Barkley went to the Philadelphia Eagles, Ryan Nassib went to the New York Giants and Tyler Wilson went to the Oakland Raiders

Like the rest of the fourth-round quarterbacks, Jones isn't projected to be the favorite for the starting job. But, will he ultimately be groomed to be the heir apparent to Ben Roethlisberger?

Free agent Charlie Batch thinks it's a distinct possibility. He said the following to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "Ultimately, I think this isn't about replacing me. Big picture, maybe they're thinking, 'Can we develop Landry Jones to be the starter? Maybe two years from now, he could be our guy for the next 10 years."

Jones possesses the skills to eventually overtake Bruce Gradkowski's backup role, but I can't envision him being the Pittsburgh Steelers' next franchise quarterback after Big Ben retires. 

Here's why. 


Roethlisberger's Age and Toughness

Due to his early success, it seems like Roethlisberger has been around forever, doesn't it? 

In reality, he's only 31 years old, and despite the frustrating injuries he's suffered throughout his career, there's no doubting he's one of the toughest quarterbacks in the game today—a true, gritty throwback. 

Roethlisberger's last 16-game regular season was 2008, but he has never missed more than four games in one year since joining the Steelers in 2004. 

Essentially, Big Ben is as close to a lock as possible to get injured every fall, but when he even nears 100 percent, Pittsburgh's coaching staff has shown it's eager to put him back on the field. 

Also, he's signed through the 2015 season, and when he's healthy, he's done nothing that suggests he can't be an elite-level quarterback and lead the Steelers deep into the playoffs. 

In what many would consider a down year in 2012, Big Ben completed more than 63 percent of his passes with 26 touchdown tosses and only eight interceptions. 

Even if—and it's a huge if—Jones sets the world on fire in relief of an injured Roethlisberger over the next few seasons, he'll be a more likely candidate to be traded for a high pick than be handed the reins of the Steelers offense. 

Although, Pittsburgh could find itself in quite the conundrum if Big Ben suffers another injury and Jones plays well as his substitute. 


Roethlisberger is set to represent more than a $17 million cap hit in 2014 and 2015. 

A healthy Big Ben is worth that money. An injured, 33-year-old Big Ben is not.


Jones' Draft Stock and Overall Ability

There was a time when Jones was considered one of the top quarterback prospects at the collegiate ranks. His Oklahoma offenses were amassing ridiculous yardage and point totals, winning Big 12 titles, and he had vast starting experience after the Sam Bradford days. 

Then, some of Jones' most prolific receivers got injured, and the vaunted Sooners defense wasn't so vaunted anymore. 

A disappointing end to the 2011 season and a shellacking at the hands of Johnny Manziel and the Texas A&M Aggies in the 2013 Cotton Bowl didn't exactly bolster Jones' draft stock. 

After that, he struggled mightily at the Senior Bowl. 

Don't struggle mightily at the Senior Bowl.

Just like that, Jones was the favorite quarterback prospect to hate. 

In reality, this former Oklahoma signal-caller is a rhythm passer who flourished in a shotgun-heavy, quick-passing spread offense, the type of attack that's becoming more prevalent across the entire NFL landscape. 

Last year, he completed 66 percent of his passes—at a somewhat respectable 7.7 yards per attempt—and threw 30 touchdowns to only 11 interceptions. 

While Jones deserved some of the criticism directed his way due to his occasionally wild inaccuracy and inability to win the truly huge games in his last two seasons in Norman, the panning he took from scouts and draftniks alike was, in all likelihood, slightly overblown. 

In a new-age, pass-happy offense with superb skill-position talent around him, Jones can be an efficient game manager, although his development may take longer than what has become the norm for young quarterbacks today.

In Pittsburgh, though, he'll have that time to learn from Roethlisberger.



Jones' outlook as a professional obviously depends on his play and how well he acclimates himself to the faster, more complex and more unforgiving NFL, a far cry from the Big 12 conference.

But the health of Roethlisberger may ultimately be just as important of a factor, especially with big contract numbers ahead on a deal that ends in 2015. 

Lastly, the Steelers will likely be reluctant to cut ties with Big Ben before they're 100 percent sure he can't play at a high level anymore, as the fan base reaction in football-rabid Pittsburgh would potentially be nothing short of vicious if they did release him

In the end, Landry Jones won't be the heir apparent to Ben Roethlisberger, but he's far less of a long-shot than many think. 


    Deshaun Will Participate in Texans OTAs This Week

    NFL logo

    Deshaun Will Participate in Texans OTAs This Week

    Jeff Risdon
    via Texans Wire

    Steelers' Most Important Training Camp Battle

    Pittsburgh Steelers logo
    Pittsburgh Steelers

    Steelers' Most Important Training Camp Battle

    Gary Davenport
    via Bleacher Report

    Don't Sleep on This Year's Bridge QBs

    NFL logo

    Don't Sleep on This Year's Bridge QBs

    Brent Sobleski
    via Bleacher Report

    Every Team's Most Important Training Camp Battle

    NFL logo

    Every Team's Most Important Training Camp Battle

    Gary Davenport
    via Bleacher Report