Taking a look back at the weeks leading up to the April 24, 2004 NFL Draft for the quarterback from Miami. Yes, it has already been 7 years since #7 was drafted!
“Are you kidding me?” It’s every football player’s dream. I don’t care where I go, I don’t care what they ask of me. I can’t wait for draft day.” — Ben, from an interview in Sports Illustrated On Campus, April 15, 2004.
From the article, “Preparing for NFL draft is a full-time job” by the AP‘s Joe Kay:
Since he left Miami of Ohio to enter the NFL draft the prominent quarterback has changed his life. He moved to the West Coast overhauled his diet and started a crash course in his new career.
“I’d say it’s more like getting ready for a season” said Roethlisberger who led Miami to a No. 10 final ranking with his strong arm and accuracy. “I had an idea it would be tough but I didn’t know how tough. I didn’t know how much time I had to put into it.”
Roethlisberger spent the last two months getting ready to make a good impression on teams looking for a franchise player. Roethlisberger who was one of Ohio’s top prep passers at Findlay High School moved to Newport Beach Calif. so he could work out every day in warmer weather.
His daily routine includes an hour of weight training an hour or more working out with a quarterback coach then a session at Steinberg’s office getting mail and doing interviews. There’s another hour-long workout to improve his speed before the day is done.
“There’s very little sitting down” said Roethlisberger who left Miami after his junior season. “Very rarely do I not have any workouts. Sunday is my one day off.”
You can read the rest of this February 29, 2004 article here.
From the article, “Is QB Philip Rivers on top of Steelers list?” by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette‘s Ed Bouchette:
When the Steelers revealed the names of a couple of quarterbacks who have accepted invitations to visit their facility next week, one name stuck out for not being on the list.
Ben Roethlisberger of Miami (Ohio) and Tulane’s J.P. Losman are among 20 college prospects who will come to Pittsburgh to be evaluated for the draft. Philip Rivers of North Carolina State will not.
“It’s a smokescreen,” one NFL general manager said yesterday at the league meetings. “Rivers is the guy they want.”
The Steelers have the 11th overall pick in the draft and Rivers is said by many to be the quarterback they are targeting.
“We want to bring people in we realistically think we have a chance to get,” Colbert said. “We’re not going to bring people in we don’t think we have a chance to get.”
Why Roethlisberger and not Rivers?
“We may have a realistic chance to get him,” Colbert said.
You can read the rest of this March 30, 2004 article here.
From the cover story, “Almost Famous” by Sports Illustrated On Campus writer Josh Elliott:
Roethlisberger is a mess these days, and it has nothing to do with the reality that next Saturday, NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue will stride to a podium in the Theater at Madison Square Garden and announce, before a national television audience, that some sad-sack team has just used its high first-round draft choice to make Roethlisberger its savior. Nor is it because, despite never having had more than a few thousand dollars in his checking account, Roethlisberger is about to become a multimillionaire.
Then he rises and leads a visitor into his old bedroom, and the secret’s out. Unpacked luggage bags spill from the doorway into the hall. One glimpse of the clutter and it’s apparent that Ben Roethlisberger is, literally, a mess.
“Uh, I’m actually sleeping down in the basement,” he says, adding sheepishly, “I’ve still got some unpacking to do, I guess.”
After announcing his intent to turn pro following Miami’s win over Louisville in the GMAC Bowl, Roethlisberger went agent-hunting. Or, more specifically, he became the hunted. He was deluged by dozens of agents, some more dubious than others, a few offering Roethlisberger “crazy amounts of money,” he says, to represent him. Ultimately, he settled upon Leigh Steinberg and his associate, Ryan Tollner, on New Year’s Day. Less than a week later Roethlisberger arrived in Newport Beach, Calif., to begin his metamorphosis from beefy, mid-major college stud to prototypical NFL quarterback. He moved into a furnished luxury condo on Jan. 5th and over the next two months did nothing, he says, but work out. “Southern California was a bit of a culture shock,” he admits. “It seemed like all the cars were fancy and all the food was healthy. It was big, and things just seemed complicated.”
You can read the rest of this magazine cover story from April 15, 2004 here.
Those Scouting Reports –
From the late Joe Stein, NFL Draft expert for the San Diego Union-Tribune:
It’s remarkable how far he has come in such a short time. Until his senior year in high school, he was a receiver. Yet, he was talented enough to take the Mid-American Conference by storm. That might not seem like a ringing endorsement on the surface, but remember that the last two MAC quarterbacks to do that were Chad Pennington and Byron Leftwich, both of whom appear to have bright NFL futures. Roethlisberger, who declared himself eligible for the NFL draft after his junior year, has a good pro arm, is more athletic than Eli Manning and Philip Rivers and sees the field well. Scouts generally believe he has the highest upside of this year’s QB crop, but also represents the greatest risk because of his limited experience.
From James Alder, NFL Draft expert at AboutFootball.com:
Ben Roethlisberger has everything you look for in a franchise quarterback. He’s got the big arm, but he also has excellent accuracy (69.1%) and nice touch. He is a pure pocket passer with excellent size and he moves around in the pocket well. He also has great escapability, often making the first defender miss. He also throws with incredible accuracy on the run… especially for a player his size.
There’s not much to dislike about Roethlisberger’s game. The only knock on him is that he played in the MAC, but with guys like Pennington and Leftwich coming out of the conference in recent years, I doubt his draft status will be adversely affected.
From Sports Illustrated‘s NFL Draft experts:
Big-armed pocket passer with the ability to grow into a franchise quarterback. Sets up to deliver the ball with solid footwork, stands strong in the pocket and smart. Sells the ball fakes, scans the field and consistently finds the open pass-catcher. Senses the rush yet buys as much time as possible, waiting for the last second before releasing the ball. Rarely panics, in complete control of the offense and a true leader behind center. Natural looking off the safety, throws with a fluid over delivery and possesses a big arm. Drives deep passes downfield, puts zip on the intermediate routes as well as velocity on all his throws. Throws tight spirals and beautifully arches deep throws. Leads receivers over the middle and very accurate. Gets outside tackle and accurate passing on the move. Does not make poor decisions and always working to make positive plays.
A pocket passer with marginal mobility and cannot escape the rush. Must improve his downfield accuracy as well as the placement of the outs. Majority of snaps are taken out of the shotgun.
We’ll look back at Draft Day, 2004 later this month.
If you have an article or interview from that time that you think might be of interest, please feel free to email me!