Winning a Super Bowl takes one thing above all else…….having a franchise quarterback. Without out one, winning a championship is nearly impossible. It’s really that simple. Look at the history of AFC quarterbacks to make the Super Bowl over the last 15 years:

  1. 2016 – Manning
  2.  2015 – Brady
  3. 2014 – Manning
  4. 2013 – Flacco
  5. 2012 – Brady
  6. 2011 – Roethlisberger
  7. 2010 – Manning
  8. 2009 – Roethlisberger
  9. 2008 – Brady
  10. 2007 – Manning
  11. 2006 – Roethlisberger
  12. 2005 – Brady
  13. 2004 – Brady
  14. 2003 – Gannon
  15. 2002 – Brady
This list really drives home the importance the quarterback position. Luckily, Pittsburgh is part of this exclusive club. How much longer can Big Ben be at this level is the question the Steelers must answer. Roethlisberger will be 34 entering this upcoming season, and is coming off a season where he missed 4 games due to injury. Compounding this, is Roethlisberger’s tendency to hold the ball too long trying to extend plays. This often leads to taking several more hits then some of the other elite quarterbacks.
Now I’m not suggesting drafting a quarterback in the first few rounds. Clearly these early picks should be used to address the defensive needs Pittsburgh has. There are a few quarterbacks the Steelers should be looking at in the later rounds though. Ohio St.’s  Cardel Jones (6-5 250lbs) is an interesting prospect. The 2014 national champion quarterback lost his starting job midway through the 2015 season, despite not losing a game. Cardel has the size, arm strength, and mobility to be an effective quarterback in the NFL.  Christian Hackenberg ( 6-4 234lbs)  is another intruiging prospect. Hackenberg has struggled since Bill Obrien left to coach the Houston Texans. In 2015, he threw for 16 toucdowns against 6 interceptions while going 7-6 with Penn. St. It was a disappointing season for the former top recruit, but the talent is there and with the right coaching Hackenberg could be a late round steal. Finally, Nate Sudfeld ( 6-5 240lbs) is another tall, big armed quarterback the Steelers could target in the late rounds. The Indiana product threw for 24 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions in 2015. Sudfeld led Indiana to the Pin Stripe bowl, where they lost to Duke 44-41. In that game Sudfeld threw for 389 yards and 3 touchdowns in the losing effort.
Ben Roethlisberger has 4 years left on his 87 million contract extenson he signed with the Steelers. It seems this is the perfect amount of time to  groom a quarterback to replace Big Ben. Drafting a star qb late in the draft is unlikely, but not impossible. We only have to look at the guy up in New England as an example.