Ron Cook: Steelers now face the unenviable task of shifting focus to business | NFL

PITTSBURGH – I can only imagine the sad scene on Monday at the Steelers Southside headquarters. This was the first day for everyone – the front office staff, coaches, scouts, support people and some players – to gather together since Dwayne Haskins’ horrific death Saturday morning.

You know what it must have been like inside the facility at 3400 South Water St. There must have been so many tears over the loss of a good teammate and good friend, who died unexpectedly so soon with so much life ahead. There may have been some smiles in memory of the good times shared with Haskins, the elegant young man by all accounts. It sure was a lot of hugging in order to comfort and support each other during a very difficult time.

All in all, a brutal day.

The worst possible day.

Unfortunately, another working day.

We all know the harsh truth:

Life should go on with any family or in any business, no matter the tragedy.

No one at Steelers Haskins headquarters will ever forget. They will always honor his memory. But Kevin Colbert, Mike Tomlin and their crew should prepare for the NFL draft, which begins on April 28. Suddenly, they have to deal with their situation in the middle in a way they could never have imagined.

Mitch Trubesky and Mason Rudolph are the only midfielders under contract.

Two more must be added before the bootcamp begins.

There was a lot of speculation for weeks that the Steelers would use the first round draft on the quarterback. They spent a lot of time meeting and investigating the top six candidates in the Senior Bowl, NFL Scouting, pro singles days and private interviews at their pool. They should know all about Kenny Beckett, Malik Willis, Matt Corral, Sam Howell, Desmond Reader and Carson Strong.

I wasn’t interested in playing a quarterback in 20th in the first round before the Haskins tragedy.

I’m still not interested.


Yes, it’s a different story if the Steelers were absolutely smitten with a quarterback and were fairly certain – at least as much as they could be – that he would be the franchise quarterback. Willis, who thinks he has the highest cap perhaps? Or maybe Pete Pete, Beckett? But if they feel that strongly about any of these players or one of the others, they shouldn’t wait until their turn is 20 and hope it’s still there. They should do whatever they need to do to trade and get their man. Attitude is very important. No position is more important in football – perhaps in all sports – than a quarterback.

I’m not sure if Colbert and Tomlin think any of these six have franchise potential. I’m also not sure if I should trust the team’s assessment of the midfielder.

Remember what Colbert said after the team replaced Rudolph with the 76th pick in the third round in 2018?

“It was really a simple choice. Mason had first-round signs on him.”

How did that work for the Steelers?

The team still has a lot of other needs to take? Midfielder If Colbert and Tomlin are not fully convinced of his stardom. He still needs defensive help, especially if Stefon Tweet isn’t back. He needs safety if Terrell Edmunds doesn’t bring back or sign free agent Terran Matthews. He needs at least two wide receivers because JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington and Ray-Ray McCloud have moved on. He needs to run backwards to go with Nagy Harris. The depth of the offensive line can always be used.

I’m relieved to start the season with Trubisky as a starter and Rudolph as a reserve. Haskins looked third. The Steelers could draft a third quarterback in subsequent rounds and bring in a free agent as the fourth arm in training camp.

Who do you know?

Trubisky is probably better than anyone could imagine.

If not, the Steelers could try to find the franchise’s next quarterback out of the season, when they should have more options and a better team overall.

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