Jan 04, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Landry Jones (12) throws during the game against the Texas A

2013 NFL Draft: Steelers grooming Landry Jones to replace Big Ben?

One of the more intriguing picks the Pittsburgh Steelers made during the 2013 NFL Draft came in the third day when they selected Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones with their second of two fourth-round selections.

There’s no doubting the fact that the Steelers needed a young quarterback that they could groom for the future, but the pick of Jones in the fourth round still seems like a reach.

Feb 24, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Landry Jones participates in a passing drill during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Consider the fact that unlike some teams in the market for a young signal caller, the Steelers are set with their top two quarterbacks for the next three years. They basically used a fourth round pick on a guy that they hope never has to play.

That being said, what’s the real plan here with Jones?

If you ask former Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch, Jones will be groomed as Ben Roethlisberger’s heir apparent.

The interesting part is that the selection of Jones all but ended Batch’s NFL career, but Batch believes the Steelers will groom Jones to eventually take over for Roethlisberger.

“Ultimately, I think this isn’t about replacing me,” Batch told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “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.’ We don’t know. But with the contracts for quarterbacks these days, he’d certainly be a heck of a lot cheaper than Ben at age 34 or 35 or 36.”

That’s something I just can’t see happening.

The Steelers’ drafting Jones was simply to do one thing: replace Batch and Byron Leftwich as the need for a younger backup was clearly there.

Roethlisberger is only 31 and still has plenty years of good football left in him. He is also in line for a new contract because his salary-cap number in 2014 is nearly $19 million. That new deal should ensure that Roethlisberger ends his career in a Steelers’ uniform.

There’s also the fact that the Steelers have taken the necessary steps the past couple of seasons to add a few more years to Big Ben’s career by beefing up the offensive line with quality young talent.

When he’s healthy, Big Ben still plays at an elite level.

Before he was injured last season, Roethlisberger threw 17 touchdowns to only four interceptions. In what could be considered a down year for him, Big Ben still completed more than 63 percent of his passes with 26 touchdown tosses and only eight picks.

Other than Roethlisberger suffering a serious injury, there’s a good chance that Jones never plays a down in Pittsburgh before the time he is eligible for unrestricted free agency.

It’s nice to have an insurance policy and play the “What If?” game. But when it’s time that the Steelers feel the need to groom Big Ben’s replacement, they will address that need with drafts in the future. They won’t let Jones sit five or six years before turning the keys to the car over to him.

No, despite what Batch thinks, drafting Jones has nothing to do with grooming him as Roethlisberger’s heir apparent.

It’s was about replacing Batch.

Plain and simple.

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Tags: 2013 NFL Draft Ben Roethlisberger Charlie Batch Landry Jones Pittsburgh Steelers

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