Notes on Steelers 4th Rd draft pick Joshua Dobbs

Josh Dobbs / Credit: UT Athletics

Notes on Steelers 4th Rd draft pick Joshua Dobbs

Josh Dobbs / Credit: UT Athletics

PHILADELPHIA — The Pittsburgh Steelers selected former Tennessee quarterback and VFL Joshua Dobbs with the 135th overall pick during Saturday’s fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft at the Philadelphia Museum of Art at Eakins Oval.


Pittsburgh Pirates: 1933-39
Pittsburgh Steelers: 1940-42, 45-Pres.

  • 1941: Bob Suffridge – G, 6th Rd, 42nd pick
  • 1942: Johnny Butler – B, 7th Rd, 51st pick
  • 1944: Jim Meyers – G, 15th Rd, 151st pick
  • 1945: Art Brandau – C, 10th Rd, 89th pick
  • 1951: Bill Pearman – G, 26th Rd, 309th pick
  • 1951: John Gruble – E, 30th Rd, 356th pick
  • 1952: Herky Payne – B, 9th Rd, 102nd pick
  • 1953: Frank Holohan – T, 10th Rd, 114th pick
  • 1954: Bob Fisher – T, 10th Rd, 115th pick
  • 1957: Frank Kolinsky – T, 28th Rd, 329th pick
  • 1965: Whit Canale – FB, 17th Rd, 227th pick
  • 1970: Frank Yanossy – DT, 16th Rd, 392nd pick
  • 1978: Craig Colquitt – P, 3rd Rd, 76th pick
  • 1987: Joey Clinkscales – WR, 9th Rd, 233nd pick
  • 2000: Tee Martin – QB, 5th Rd, 163rd pick
  • 2010: Chris Scott – T, 5th Rd, 151st pick
  • 2014: Daniel McCullers – DT, 6th Rd, 215th pick
  • 2017: Cameron Sutton – DB, 3rd Rd, 94th pick
  • 2017: Joshua Dobbs – QB, 4th Rd, 135th pick

Dobbs is the first Tennessee quarterback drafted since 2010 when the San Diego Chargers selected Jonathan Crompton in the fifth round with the 168th pick. As the 135th overall selection, Dobbs is also the highest-drafted Vols QB since 1998 when the Indianapolis Colts took Peyton Manning with the No. 1 overall pick.

Dobbs is the 19th Vol to be selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers and the second in this year’s class, joining teammate Cameron Sutton, who the team took on Friday in the third round with the 94th overall pick. He also joins Tee Martin (fifth round, 163rd overall in 2000) as the only two Tennessee quarterbacks drafted by the Steelers.

With Dobbs’ selection in the fourth round, Tennessee now has six players picked in the first four rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft. That marks the most Vols picked in the first four rounds since 2002 when John Henderson, Donte’ Stallworth and Albert Haynesworth went in the first round, Fred Weary and Will Overstreet went in the third and Travis Stephens went in the fourth.

Dobbs enjoyed the best season of his distinguished Tennessee career in 2016, completing 63.0 percent of his passes with career highs of 2,946 yards and 27 touchdowns. He also rushed for Tennessee quarterback records of 831 yards and 12 touchdowns on 150 carries. In SEC games, Dobbs’ 151.5 passer efficiency rating, 23 total offensive touchdowns, 316.9 total offensive yards per game and 8.6 yards per attempt led the league. He earned All-SEC honors and will compete in the 2017 Reese’s Senior Bowl on Jan. 28. Dobbs, who was one of four team captains in 2016, was one of the key leaders in Tennessee’s program turnaround over the past four years. He finished his UT career with a 23-12 record as a starter and his 9,360 yards of total offense (7,138 passing, 2,160 rushing, 62 receiving) rank third in Tennessee history.

Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin

(On Joshua Dobbs)
“He’s a smart guy. He is driven in all of the right ways. He is properly motivated. He has got natural leadership skills. A lot has been written about his academic prowess, but I think he carries that same mentality in how he approaches football. We just see that there is a lot of upside in this young man. He has been in competitive circumstances before. He has prevailed. He has come out the other side. We are just really excited not only about what he has done, but we believe that there is a strong upside there. We are talking about a young guy who is really excited to get coached from day to day from a positional standpoint and be exposed to our professional football offense.”

Pittsburgh Steelers Quarterback Joshua Dobbs

(On talking with Ben Roethlisberger when he visited the Steelers)
“It was a very good exchange. I was sitting down watching some film in the quarterback room. It was cool to see him stop in. He just stopped in to say help briefly. It was really cool to see him in person. He is a great quarterback. I am excited to get the chance to learn from him and be able to take in as much as I possibly can from him.”

(On if he had the Steelers on his radar)
“I did. It was funny, I had a couple of friends over and my parents. We were looking at the pick order. I saw Pittsburgh up there, probably 15 picks ago. And I was like, “Pittsburgh, that will be the one. Stayed tuned to Pittsburgh.” Two picks before the pick, I got the call from a 412 area code and it was Coach Tomlin on the phone. It’s amazing. It’s truly a dream come true, the opportunity. God works in mysterious ways, but I am definitely excited to be a part of the Steelers.”

(On his internship designing aircraft engines for Pratt & Whitney and the U.S. Government)
“That is true. I was in Florida, working on the F-135 engine in the fighter jets. This was a couple of months before the aircraft actually went into action, but there was flight testing. It was a really great opportunity to branch out and learn about the aerospace industry and the most technologically advanced engine ever created, to this day. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

(On his recommendations to make the engine better)
“[Laughs] At that point I was just in the learning process. I didn’t have any recommendations, because I was just learning how the whole engine worked, everything that went into testing and everything they were doing regarding how they developed the engine as they pushed towards certification. I learned a lot about that and the engineering world.”

(On balancing school and football)
“It’s great to have an engineering degree, because just the preparation and the mental aptitude and mental toughness that it takes to push through four years in college, pursuing an aerospace engineering degree with a business minor, and playing division one SEC Football, that’s the same amount of pressure you have to take on the field as a quarterback. And the preparation day-to-day, and the constant trying to find every detail that is going to give you a good, competitive edge on Sunday. It’s the same mindset that you have in the classroom that you take into the film room and then onto the field.”

(On his strengths and where he could improve)
“No. 1, my leadership and being a consistent leader each and every day, and positively impacting my teammates on and off the field. No. 2, the physicality that it takes to be successful at the next level, from my competitive spirit and my arm strength and accuracy, and to my footwork, and understanding the play calling and what the coaches are trying to get out of you each and every play. Just being a coach and a field general. And No. 3, my consistency, pushing to be great and pushing to win. That’s what I want to do at the end of the day, compete and win. That’s my mindset. I am just excited to bring that to the Steelers.”

(On why he wants to play football, considering his successful academic background)
“I don’t feel like your academic background should prohibit you from playing football. I love the game of football. I have loved it since I played it when I was five. My mom signed me up at five years old, when we were running around in helmets bigger than your body. Football is all I know. Going to college, I could have played football or baseball, but I chose football because that was the sport I couldn’t see myself not playing. I love the game. I give it all, every time I step onto the field. It’s great to have a backup plan for 15 years down the road when I can’t play football. But until that day, I am giving it all to the sport I love. I will definitely do that each and every day.”

(On possibly being Ben Roethlisberger’s replacement)
“I am not trying to replace anyone. I am just trying to be the best I can be each and every day. Show up and work. Learn as much as I can from a future Hall of Famer. It’s definitely an amazing opportunity. Each day I am working and preparing like I am a starter, but also treating it as a learning opportunity so that whenever my number is called, I am ready to go, ready to play and ready to play at a high level.”

(On the similarities between this offense and his college offense)
“There are a lot of similarities, being able to come up to Pittsburgh. I spent some time with the coaching staff and watched some plays. It’s similar plays and lingo that I was familiar with at the college level, similar progressions. Of course, the Steelers are going to draw up different plays for different people, get Antonio Brown the ball. But at the end of the day, it’s similar progressions, similar thought process that goes into being successful at quarterback. Of course there is going to be a learning curve and whatever you have to do to make yourself polished at the professional level, but it’s still in the same category of the stuff I have been doing at the college level, so I feel better prepared to make that jump successfully.”

(On limiting the fumbles when running)
“Have to take care of the football. Have to be smart. Make sure you hold it high and tight. Hold your dreams, goals and aspirations moving forward, and achieve that. Committing less turnovers gives you a higher chance to win. It’s all about the ball, and you have to protect it.”

(On UT and Steelers teammate Cameron Sutton)
“That’s my guy. We walked in freshman year of college. We are both from Georgia. We actually played fourth grade football against each other. He won one. I won one. So we are 1-1 on opposite ends. We were roommates our freshman year. We created a great relationship. We were able to become leaders at Tennessee, on and off the field. I saw him get drafted yesterday. I was so excited for him. I am definitely excited to come join him. He was one of the first people that called me after I got drafted. We knew we are going to be back together, and we weren’t going to be broken up. It’s definitely very exciting to see a familiar face, a great teammate and a great friend and brother with me in Pittsburgh.”

(On his position in baseball)
“I played shortstop and third base.”

Pittsburgh Steelers Quarterbacks Coach Randy Fichtner

(Opening Statement)
“Obviously I am excited about the opportunity to strengthen our room. I got a chance to meet Josh a couple weeks ago; I think it was April 3rd. I visited with him at the combine for a little bit. He is a super young man, talented, checks a lot of boxes, a winning quarterback. He did a nice job in fourth quarter wins. I believe he had five in the last two years. Lot of strengths, obviously, a lot of people are going to talk about his above the neck is strong no question. I don’t know if I’m in that category as far as he is with his mind, but we definitely hit it off. I think one of the things that happen when you get to meet the guy and you spend time throughout this process is you get a chance to feel their love for the game. I think this a very sharp young man who loves football. That is unique. To be as sharp as he is, to be as accomplished as he is, and this is what he chose to do. I am excited about that as we move forward.”

(On if it it is hard knowing that players are smarter than coaches)
“Aerospace engineering, I think he has already worked on his business degree, I mean he is very accomplished.”

(On why he felt the team needed to add a quarterback in this draft)
“Well, we evaluate a lot of the quarterbacks. I think you are always trying to better yourselves in the room. Regardless of what Ben Roethlisberger is doing, just to throw that out there. Whether he plays five more years, six more years, I tease him all the time saying we have to go eight. That’s irrelevant. It’s a matter of strengthening the room, finding some characteristics that he can bring to the Steelers that we value to make us better. I think our room just gets competitive. That’s always a good thing. You are looking for competition and it just happens that it fell at quarterback this year. It’s been awhile. Like I said when I walked in, I have only been in here one time in 11 years. Landry was about five years ago.”

(On fumbles)
“There’s always going to be a number of favors. First and foremost you are always going to look at fumbles that don’t have to be caused. Ball security in the pocket, he has big enough hands to play in AFC in this football that we play here. He has big enough hands, he is strong enough but you are talking about an athletic runner. They asked him to run to be a part of the run game at certain times. I think it’s not a complete spread where he is asked to run every fifth play or is running a whole bunch of run pass options. You definitely get a chance to see him in the pocket. He is definitely an athletic quarterback at 6’3, who can extend plays, willing to extend plays. So now you are in a position where some of the fumbles might occur. I’m not sure that is a stat that is lost though. Again, sometimes when you are talking about shotgun, you are doing meshes and things like that, the ball is on the ground and next thing you know it’s the quarterback responsible and he is the one who is guaranteed to fumble. But obviously, those will be things you always talk about, those are things we work individual. Ball security is a must. Anytime you are a developing backup quarterbacks for the Pittsburgh Steelers, you have to protect the football”

(On the challenges of a quarterback learning to take snaps under center)
“He’s been exposed to some under-center-football. They’ve asked him to do some of that, so it isn’t going to be foreign to him like it will be for a handful of guys that have already been drafted to this point. One of the things these guys do as soon as their season is over, they work toward working under center the whole time, so if you go to their pro day, they’re under center. They’re going to try and prove to you and show you the coach, the general manager, the head coach, all the scouts that, `Hey, I can do this and you don’t have to worry about.’ Any of the quarterback coaches that work with these guys from the time their season is over until the draft, they know that if it’s an emphasis they haven’t had, then they’re going to put them in those situations. So we would have gotten a chance to see him even at their pro day do these types of things.”

(On if the comparisons between Dobbs and Dak Prescott are accurate)
“Well I think you go comparisons because you’re talking about guys that can throw for x-amount of touchdowns in the SEC and rush for x-amount of touchdowns in the SEC and he’s one of those guys. I was at Dak’s workout a year ago and you’re talking about an athletic guy. We might even be saying the same thing potentially about the fumble numbers okay, because we’re talking about guys that extend that create to make plays and Joshua is in that category. He’s capable of doing that.”

(On how big of a deal is arm strength as in the NFL)
“I think it’s a must. We all talk about it. I’ve coached guys at different levels and it’s been unique to see because you see guys that can understand the game and make very quick decisions and the ball comes out. And if that arm strength isn’t elite like Ben (Roethlisberger), like Byron Leftwich, like a handful of guys in this league that have that kind of arm, you have to win above the neck and the ball has to come out on time. Decisions have to be made and you’re talking about delivery and getting the ball out. So to me, it starts with arm strength, but I’ve been able to see others that didn’t necessarily have that elite arm be very successful in their system.”

(On how he rates Dobbs’ arm)
“I’d say it’s very good, very good, strong, very good. There aren’t many throws that we would ask him to make that I haven’t already seen him do on tape.”

(On Dobbs’ accuracy and decision making)
“I think that’s two different questions. I think accuracy is very good. I want to say – so I don’t speak out – I think he’s a career plus-60, 61, 62, 63 percent passer. Again, you’re talking some play-action-type things where you’re throwing the ball down the yard. You noticed and you probably even saw some of the highlights of him, pushing the ball down the field. His offense isn’t built on a ton of the bubble screens and all just wide-receiver-type screens, so accuracy is to me, within a pattern how well does he get the ball out, making decision, but it’s also is he putting the intended receiver in position to be able to catch the football? And generally he does.”

(On having him ready to start)
“Tomorrow. We take everyone in the room and that’s what we’re working on. I’m not going to coach him any different than I’m going to coach Ben Roethlisberger and the expectations aren’t going to change for him. I know that sounds like an answer you don’t want to here, but the truth is, that’s it. His growth will start as soon as we get out of here and I get the chance to get him on the phone again. Again, I got to visit with him a couple weeks back, we spent a couple of hours in here and Ben didn’t meet him. Like I said, that will all go as he goes, too. But we’re going to get an opportunity to go into rookie minicamp, and we’re going to fire a lot at him. I think he made a comment before that there probably aren’t too many playbooks he’s real nervous about not being able to understand. But the truth is, it will be different. It will be a different system, the tempo will be totally different in the practice and the looks he’s going to see are going to be totally unique and different than what he’s probably been exposed to. So that learning curve still exists.”

(On his deep-ball accuracy)
“You see him make those plays. Again, you see a couple of the highlighted ones late in games when he made game-winning throws. We’re blessed because Ben is one of those deep-ball throwers–that’s unique. He’s really good at it. And I think if you’re asking about one trait that you would love to have when you’re looking at our wide receiver group, you better be able to throw the deep ball.”

(On if there was anything that stuck out on his visit)
“Like I said, I probably had generally an hour or an hour and a half that might have bled over to two in between all of the interviews and everything he has to do while he’s in this building for that short period of time. And it’s one of those things that happens really fast. And it goes by so quick that you’re like, “Wow. What just happened?” And then he’s leaving, because you enjoy it that much. When you’re around folks like that, it’s fun. And I’m sure you’ve all been out to dinner with somebody or sat with someone and you just talked and three hours just went by, and it was unbelievable. You sit in the same room sometimes and you think, “Wow. I can’t wait for this dinner to be over with.” He’s got that dynamic.”

(On him being Ben’s replacement)
“I would say that right now you would consider first things first–let’s make our room better in competition. Let’s soak up everything Ben has left in the tank, which he can sponge off and learn. Because being with the respect that Ben Roethlisberger has at the level he plays at, it’s unbelievable. And I would expect, and I know because I’ve seen Landry and every quarterback come through here try to sponge off of that. And I would be shocked if Josh isn’t already thinking about that. How much can I pull from this guy every day that he’s on the grass or in a meeting?”

(On his major)
“I guess you could say that. It’s funny because I’m a Memphis guy. You all know I married a Memphis gal. I coached at Memphis for many, many years two different times. DeAngelo Williams is one of my favorites. We’re all blue in our house. This will be the one exception for orange–that I will allow orange to be in our house. I’ll be one of the first to go get one of his jerseys. So I’m excited about having him. And we’ll make an exception for the orange. I’m sure Ramon, Big Dan and Cam are all celebrating. It’s great.”

-UT Athletics


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