June 22, 2024

The Pittsburgh Steelers likely won’t be in position to draft a quarterback in the first round of the 2024 NFL draft

. So, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Ray Fittipaldo ran through the team’s other mid-round quarterback options in this year’s draft.

Mike Tomlin Spencer Rattler

Fittipaldo suggested South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler as a potential target.

“Rattler was a young phenom, throwing for 116 touchdowns on his way to becoming the consensus No. 1 quarterback in the 2019 recruiting class,” Fittipaldo wrote on February 2. “Five years later, after a tumultuous college career, he’s clinging to his dream of playing in the NFL.”

Fittipaldo paired the Steelers and Rattler as a possible match because of the team’s obvious need at quarterback.

Even if the Steelers sign a free agent signal caller to compete with Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh could still target a quarterback in the draft for depth.

“It appears the Steelers will need to add one and maybe two quarterbacks to the mix this spring,” Fittipaldo wrote. “One of them could come through the draft, although spending an early pick on a quarterback doesn’t seem plausible given their draft position and the other positions where they need more immediate help. Taking one on Day 2 or Day 3 of the draft is more reasonable.

“Rattler and a couple of other quarterbacks could be in range for the Steelers in the middle rounds of the draft.”

Rattler posted a 68.9% completion percentage with 3,186 passing yards, 19 touchdowns and 8 interceptions during the 2023 season.


Why Targeting Spencer Rattler Could Make Sense for Steelers

The Steelers have clearly liked having three quarterbacks on their roster since they drafted Pickett. Although the team could cut Mitch Trubisky and lose Mason Rudolph in free agency, Fittipaldo anticipates the Steelers sticking with three active signal callers.

Rattler wouldn’t bring starter experience as Pittsburgh’s three quarterbacks did in 2023. But he could provide middle-round upside after going through a difficult college career.

“I think, being a quarterback, you’re going to see adversity at some point in your career, and I’m happy I got to experience that early in college,” Rattler said at the Senior Bowl, via Fittipaldo. “Being in three different systems and two big-time conferences helps a lot. I feel like I’m ahead of the curve.

“I still have a lot of work to do; I never want to get complacent, but I’m confident in where I’m headed.”

Despite that adversity, Rattler posted a 68.5% completion percentage with more than 10,000 passing yards in his college career. He also had 77 touchdowns and 32 interceptions.

In 2022, he led South Carolina to an 8-5 record.


The Cons of Targeting Rattler in the 2024 NFL draft

Targeting a quarterback on Day 3 of the draft and hoping he’s the next Dak Prescott is easier said than done.

Over the past decade, it’s hard to find examples of successful quarterbacks taken on Day 2 of the draft let alone Day 3. The most recent example of that would obviously be Brock Purdy, who was a seventh-round pick in 2022.

But Purdy works with some of the best offensive playmakers in the league and offensive guru Kyle Shanahan. The Steelers and other teams can’t aim to replicate that for their young signal callers.

For every Day 3 quarterback who experiences some success in the league, there’s at least another three or four who don’t.

For that reason, drafting Rattler would come with risk. He may not inspire a lot of excitement either, judging that he severely underachieved as the former No. 1 overall recruit in the country.

It’s hard to envision the Steelers upgrading their quarterback room by taking a flier on a signal caller who posted a losing record his senior year of college.

Dave Holcomb is a sports reporter covering the Pittsburgh Steelers and Detroit Lions for Heavy.com. Originally from Pittsburgh, Holcomb has covered college and professional sports for outlets including Fansided, Rotowire and Yardbarker. More about Dave Holcomb

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