Tim Benz’s Friday Football Footnotes: AFC North QB upheaval, Derrius Guice rumor and more
This week’s “Friday Football Footnotes” takes a look at some of the other angles of the NFL Draft outside of Pittsburgh that may impact the Steelers and a weird rumor why so many teams passed on Derrius Guice.
AFC NORTH MAKES WAVES
The most intriguing story to emerge from the NFL Draft weekend is what happened in the AFC North, where three of the four teams took their quarterback of the future.
And the fourth apparently wanted to.
The Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens drafted Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson in the first round. The Steelers selected Mason Rudolph in the third round.
In a fun twist, the Steelers did so right in front of the Cincinnati Bengals, who, based on what Marvin Lewis said after the draft, had at least some interest in Rudolph.
It’s not often you see three teams within a division get ready to turn the page on the quarterback at the same time.
But we may see Mayfield this year in Cleveland, Jackson next year in Baltimore and Rudolph whenever the always-fickle Ben Roethlisberger makes up his mind about retirement.
That could be next year or — who knows — like, 2027.
If the second thing happens, maybe then we get a Black and Gold version of the Tom Brady/Jimmy Garoppolo story instead.
That will be fun for me. Which is truly all I care about.
How Cincy may have Retaliated
Last year, the Bengals drafted William Jackson III right before the Steelers were likely to take him.
This year, the Steelers apparently did that when they took Rudolph. Those quotes from Lewis after the draft sure made it sound like that’s the case.
What’s also going to be interesting is how Malik Jefferson does at linebacker for Cincinnati. That’s a player who would’ve made sense in Pittsburgh as a potential Ryan Shazier replacement.
Some Steelers fans are livid that linebacker wasn’t addressed in the draft. And if Jefferson succeeds while Rudolph sits as a backup, that will be a major talking point.
Looking at Lamar
The Ravens will be going from a notoriously immobile passer in Joe Flacco to potentially one of the best running quarterbacks we’ve seen in the NFL.
But will Jackson be able to throw the deep ball like Flacco, and how quick of a study will he be? Flacco started his tenure as Rookie of the Year in 2008.
Among the AFC North QB changes, Baltimore’s will be most drastic in terms of personality. There’s little structure or semblance of a system in place in Cleveland right now to begin with. And Rudolph looks like he’d be a Big Ben clone if he lives up to his draft billing.
The biggest mystery of the three will be in Maryland.
Control, Alt, Delete on Guice
Like many teams, the Steelers passed on LSU running back Derrius Guice in the first round. I thought they might target him as Le’Veon Bell insurance.
Something off the field happened that caused Guice to slide down the draft board into the second round. Benjamin Albright in Denver suggested all he wants to do is sit around and play video games.
From a league source on Guice: ‘He got into an altercation at a meeting with the Eagles. He had several meetings where he came across lazy only wants to play video games. We caught a direct dishonesty from him in our meeting.’
— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) April 28, 2018
When I saw that tweet, it was the second time I had heard that about Guice. Someone in Baton Rouge had previously told me that he’s a huge gamer and really vocal about how important that hobby is to him.
The other items in that tweet are more alarming. But if the video game stuff is what his fall was all about, I gotta ask, THAT’s it? A 20- year-old into video games too much?! Major headlines! Film at 11! I thought it was something nefarious. Drugs. Violence. Gang activity. Gimme something! But the kid’s a video game addict? So what? Many kids are.
Did the video games get in the way of him tearing up the SEC? If that’s what that draft-day slide was all about, the Washington Redskins got a steal.
Chark the Shark
Speaking of LSU guys and the Steelers, here’s a natural comparison that’s always going to happen.
The Steelers selected wide receiver James Washington at pick 60. I love that move. But I also am a big fan of LSU receiver D.J. Chark.
He was taken with the very next choice by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Chark is bigger, has more footspeed and is considered to be more athletic. But Washington is deemed to be more consistent, stronger and with better hands.
These two teams play each other Nov. 18 and maybe again in the playoffs. If one receiver goes on to be great and the other busts, they’ll always be linked.
Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @TimBenzPGH.