Forget the first three rounds of the draft, it took until the third day for things to really get interesting for the Steelers. A linebacker, a halfback and a wide receiver fail in comparison to what happened Saturday in the fourth round. First, the Steelers traded away a future draft pick for the first time in 40 years, and then they drafted a quarterback! Landry Jones of Oklahoma not only shattered Big 12 Conference and Oklahoma passing records, he sees himself as a starting NFL quarterback some day, and he's not at all unhappy that the team that drafted him has Ben Roethlisberger. "Ever since you're a young kid, you do see yourself as a starter," said Jones, who started 50 games at quarterback for the Sooners. "You see yourself winning Super Bowls. You see yourself doing all these different things in the NFL, so I'm just excited about being there and having an opportunity." Since Roethlisberger just turned 31 recently, there's not much chance Jones will be doing all of those things as a starting quarterback with the Steelers anytime soon. Yet after having veteran backups Charlie Batch (since 2002) and Byron Leftwich (2008, 2010-11), the Steelers felt they needed a fresh, younger face on the roster. But as high as the fourth round? "We have had great experience in that room with Charlie and Byron," said Randy Fichtner, who coaches the quarterbacks. "I just think it was time to start grooming a new player, freshen up the room if you will." He is the first quarterback the Steelers drafted since they chose Dennis Dixon in the fifth round in 2008. Besides Roethlisberger, a first-round pick in 2004, Jones became their highest-drafted quarterback since Kordell Stewart came to them in the second round in 1995. Roethlisberger said Saturday he doesn't know Jones personally "but I know he's a great kid and a hard worker and a good player." The Steelers did draft some other players Saturday. They filled another need when they drafted Syracuse safety Shamarko Thomas in the fourth round ahead of Jones. They traded with AFC North Division rival Cleveland for that pick, No. 111 overall, by sending the Browns their third-round pick in 2014. It's the first time since 1973 they traded away a future pick (their No. 3 in 1974 for Tom Keating). They previously traded a draft pick to the Browns in 1967 for tackle John Brown (for 1968 picks in Rounds 3 and 10). But then Jimmy Haslam was a partner in Steelers ownership until he bought the Browns in the fall. The Steelers drafted Illinois cornerback Terry Hawthorne in the fifth round, and then took Landry's Oklahoma teammate, wide receiver Justin Brown, with their first pick in the sixth round. Landry transferred from Penn State after the school was hit with NCAA sanctions after the 2011 season.
Interest peaks with Steelers' pick of Oklahoma QB
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | Apr 28