Los Angeles Times

QB understudi­es:

- SAM FARMER ON THE NFL Did anyone remind the sam.farmer@latimes.com Twitter: @LATimesfar­mer

Are Ben Roethlisbe­rger and Eli Manning meeting their successors?

PHILADELPH­IA — Make room for the understudi­es.

Thirteen years ago, the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Ben Roethlisbe­rger and the New York Giants acquired No. 1 pick Eli Manning in a trade with San Diego. Those quarterbac­ks went on to win two Super Bowls each.

On Saturday, for the first time in four years, the Steelers drafted a quarterbac­k in fourth-rounder Josh Dobbs of Tennessee. That came a day after the Giants selected Cal’s Davis Webb in the third.

While it’s too early to say that either Dobbs or Webb will eventually succeed the current starters, it’s not outside the realm of possibilit­y. After all, Dak Prescott was a fourth-round pick by Dallas last year, replaced the injured Tony Romo, and ultimately made him expendable.

“I’m not trying to replace anyone,” the newest Pittsburgh quarterbac­k said. “I’m just trying to be the best Josh Dobbs I can be.”

However, no one would be surprised if Dobbs replaces backup Landry Jones, a fourth-round pick in 2013 who was recently signed to a two-year deal shortly after he became a free agent.

Roethlisbe­rger, 35, mulled the idea of retiring after the 2016 season.

“Regardless of what Ben’s doing, whether he plays five more years, six more years — I tease him all the time you have to go eight — that’s irrelevant,” Steelers quarterbac­ks coach Randy Fichtner said, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I think our room just gets very competitiv­e right now. It’s been a while.”

Manning, 36, has three years left on his contract. The Giants reached out to him before selecting Webb to alert him they were taking a quarterbac­k, presumably so he wouldn’t take it the wrong way.

“Let me get this straight, guys,” general manager Jerry Reese told reporters. “We hope that Eli plays for a long time for us. Eli is our quarterbac­k and we still think that he can play at a high level, but we do know that he is not going to play forever, so we are trying to make the best decision as we move forward for the rest of Eli’s career.”

It was a prudent move for both teams. But as Romo can attest, uneasy lies the crown.

Fighting chance

Seattle used a sixthround pick on a safety from Cincinnati with an eyecatchin­g name. Naturally, somebody at his press conference asked him if he can fight.

“I probably get that question at least once a day,” Mike Tyson said. “If I meet anybody new that’s one of the first questions they ask me. Am I related to Mike Tyson? Can I fight like Mike Tyson? Or, who’s the real Mike Tyson? We’re both real. It’s just that he boxes and I play football.”

He conceded he “sometimes” gets sick of the questions. Tyson, his father, and his 3-year-old son are all named Mike.

Small gestures

Philadelph­ia and Dallas, mortal enemies in the NFC East, made similar picks in back-to-back selections in the fourth round. The Eagles took Donnel Pumphrey, a 5-foot-8 running back from San Diego State, and the Cowboys took Ryan Switzer, a 5-8 receiver from North Carolina. Both players are multipurpo­se threats who will get a chance to make their marks on special teams.

Pumphrey, who scored 67 touchdowns in college, will learn behind Darren Sproles, who’s probably in his last season, while Switzer will be a likely understudy to the diminutive Cole Beasley.

Bygones be bygones

Remember eight years ago when Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh had that uncomforta­ble exchange at midfield after Stanford ran up the score on USC? A miffed Carroll famously asked Harbaugh, “What’s your deal?” Well, Carroll paid his old nemesis a nice compliment in the third round when the Seahawks drafted a pair of Harbaugh’s Michigan players, safety Delano Hill and receiver Amara Darboh.

“Coach Harbaugh does a great job,” said Carroll, whose rivalry with him continued when Harbaugh was in San Francisco. “Really, it is. It’s a good scheme fit to see guys in pro style.”

Strange trips

The NFL has tried different ways to make the final day of the draft more interestin­g and expand the viewership beyond football junkies. Saturday, the league gave teams the opportunit­y to announce their picks from iconic spots in their market, or representa­tive of their market.

It was hit and miss. Among the backdrops were the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass for Jacksonvil­le, the Grand Canyon for Arizona, the Internatio­nal Space Station for Houston, and, from the salt-in-the-wound department, the Raiders announced their picks from Las Vegas.

Bizarrely, the Colts made their announceme­nts from an orangutan exhibit at the Indianapol­is Zoo.

The latter wore on the nerves of NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock, who clearly saw it as gimmicky and distractin­g.

“If we’re going back to the zoo, I’m walking off the desk,” Mayock said. “I’ve about had the zoo, OK? Enough. Enough. I mean, is this good TV?”

After it was indeed back to the zoo for the Colts’ pick of Albany State defensive tackle Grover Stewart, Mayock said: “I think we’ve got to be a little respectful to Big Grove. It’s a big day for Grover Stewart, and rather than talking about that chimp, let’s get back to some football here. It’s a big day for him.”

Bargain bin

Several teams got discounts on injured prospects, banking on big value when those players return to health.

UCLA cornerback Fabian Moreau, recovering from a torn pectoral muscle, might have been a firstround talent but went to Washington in the third.

Arizona got Dorian Johnson in the fourth round, likely two rounds later than the Pittsburgh guard would have gone had he not had a liver issue (one he said he’s had his entire life and is not concerned about).

And Denver used a fifthround pick on Gronkowski­esque Michigan tight end Jake Butt, a possible second-round talent on his way back from a torn ACL in the Orange Bowl.

Help wanted

New York Jets they need a quarterbac­k?

This is a franchise that had drafted eight of them since 2006, the most in the NFL during that span, including one each in the past four drafts.

Yet the club is still looking for an answer at that vital position.

But time after time, the Jets passed on a passer, selecting in order: safety, safety, receiver, receiver, tight end, defensive lineman, running back, cornerback, cornerback.

Let’s make a deal

This drafted shattered the record for most trades with 39, five more than the previous high. Part of the reason was this was the first draft that allowed for the trading of compensato­ry picks. The first five selections of the second round all came as the result of trades, and teams traded up for all three quarterbac­ks taken in the opening round.


UCLA’s Jayon Brown is on the small side for an NFL linebacker at 6 feet, 231 pounds, but he’s a tackling machine.

He led the Bruins with 119 last season. That was enough to convince Tennessee to take him in the fifth round as a possible safety hybrid. Brown is now a teammate of a crosstown rival, USC cornerback Adoree’ Jackson, the Titans’ second pick in the first round.

Making their pitch

In Philadelph­ia to scout the draft proceeding­s were representa­tives from 15 NFL cities, along with some from the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

All of those cities are angling to host future drafts. Los Angeles was not in that group of candidates, but the general belief is L.A. will get a chance to play host to the event once the Inglewood stadium is completed.

Making an aggressive push to host the 2018 draft is Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who presumably would stage it at the Star in Frisco, the team’s new headquarte­rs. Although with crowds of 100,000 on hand to watch the draft live in Philadelph­ia, AT&T Stadium might be an even better venue.

And f inally

Mr. Irrelevant has some highly relevant bloodlines. The final pick of the draft, Ole Miss quarterbac­k Chad Kelly, is the nephew of Hall of Fame quarterbac­k Jim Kelly.

Denver selected the younger Kelly with pick No. 253, a compensato­ry selection at the end of the seventh round.

Wrote his famous uncle on Instagram: “From a little boy many years ago. His dream finally came true. He is an NFL player. Now it's time for him to go to work. I am so proud.”

 ?? Gene J. Puskar Associated Press ?? STEELERS QUARTERBAC­K Ben Roethlisbe­rger, left, mulled the idea of retiring after the 2016 season. He is shown in a 2013 photo with Giants quarterbac­k Eli Manning, who has three years left on his contract.
Gene J. Puskar Associated Press STEELERS QUARTERBAC­K Ben Roethlisbe­rger, left, mulled the idea of retiring after the 2016 season. He is shown in a 2013 photo with Giants quarterbac­k Eli Manning, who has three years left on his contract.
 ?? David J. Phillip Associated Press ?? DONNEL PUMPHREY, a 5-foot-8 running back from San Diego State, was selected by the Eagles.
David J. Phillip Associated Press DONNEL PUMPHREY, a 5-foot-8 running back from San Diego State, was selected by the Eagles.

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