Browns reporter shares why team passed on Ben Roethlisberger in draft
The Cleveland Browns got what was likely their final close-up look at Ben Roethlisberger during their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night. Roethlisberger has completely owned his division rival throughout the years, and some have wondered why he didn’t end up in a Browns uniform. We may have an answer.
Prior to Pittsburgh’s 26-14 win over the Browns, Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com spoke with “The Fan Morning Show” on 93.7 The Fan about why the Browns passed on Roethlisberger in the 2004 NFL Draft. She said former Browns offensive coordinator and interim head coach Terry Robiskie told her the team’s talent evaluators felt at the time that Big Ben had “heavy legs” and would be doomed playing behind their offensive line.
Were the Cleveland Browns even CLOSE to drafting Ben Roethlisberger, who grew up and played his college ball in the state of Ohio?
Check out what Browns reporter @MaryKayCabot said about their evaluation of him…yikes.
— The Fan Morning Show (@FanMorningShow) January 3, 2022
“They did not think that he would survive too long behind their offensive line, which of course is short-sighted thinking,” Cabot said. “You cannot evaluate a quarterback (based on) what your current offensive line looks like. They had Pete Garcia as their GM at that point. He had come from (the University of Miami) with Butch Davis. They didn’t have a real, longtime, strong NFL GM in place. Had they had one, they may have taken — and should have taken — Ben Roethlisberger at No. 6 overall.”
The Browns selected Kellen Winslow at sixth overall. The tight end had played for Davis at Miami. Davis was the head coach of the Hurricanes for six seasons before the Browns hired him in 2001.
It’s impossible to say if Roethlisberger would have been the same player with the Browns that he became in Pittsburgh. There’s no guarantee the Browns would have developed him as well as the Steelers did. That said, Big Ben on Monday night improved to 26-3-1 in his career against Cleveland. You can’t blame Browns fans for wondering how the past 18 years might have been different had they drafted Roethlisberger.
The Browns may have finally found their franchise quarterback in Baker Mayfield, but the jury is still out on that. Their inability to draft and develop a QB has plagued them for years. Maybe they’d be the team with two Super Bowls in the past 15 years if they got it right with Roethlisberger.
Photo: Dec 19, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) warms up before the game against the Tennessee Titans at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports