The Pittsburgh Steelers are in the market for at least one more quarterback, hence the team’s interest in everyone from potential first-round pick Malik Willis to less highly-touted prospect Chris Oladokun of South Dakota State.
But in recent days, Tre Ford — a “developmental” quarterback from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada — has been linked to the Steelers, not to mention the Bengals and Browns.
According to 3 Down Nation CFL insider Justin Dunk, “the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals are considering the possibility of bringing Ford in to develop while also helping the first-team defence prepare to defend Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson,” noting that all three teams have to face the 2019 NFL Most Valuable Player twice a year.
The attraction to Ford — who is listed by the Waterloo Warriors as being 6-foot-1 and 192 pounds — is that he’s “the fastest and most athletic quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft class,” writes Dunk, having already noted that Ford ran a 4.45 40-yard dash at the University of Buffalo’s Pro Day on March 17. Know too that he will soon have another opportunity to impress, having been invited to the Buffalo Bills’ local Pro Day on April 8.
Mimicking the Ravens’ Lamar Jackson is a Thing
Of course, the Ravens’ AFC North rivals aren’t the only NFL teams who have tried to mimic the speed and play style of Lamar Jackson in practice. In fact, the Ravens once published a slide show on the team’s official web site in which they illustrated some of more creative ways that opponents have tried to simulate Jackson. For their part, the Steelers once signed former South Dakota State quarterback Taryn Christion to their practice squad specifically for the purpose of serving as scout team quarterback during Ravens week.
In this case, though, Ford may have a legitimate chance of sticking with the NFL team that drafts or signs him.
“(Some of) the teams that are showing interest are the ones that have dual-threat quarterbacks. They want to draft players that have the same capabilities so they don’t have to change the offense,” said University of Waterloo head coach Chris Bertoia during an interview with Dunk.
In all likelihood, Ford will be signed as an undrafted free agent, but there is the possibility he’ll be selected in the seventh-round, so an interested team doesn’t have to bid for his services.
Ford Won the Canadian Equivalent of the Heisman Trophy in 2021
If nothing else, the 24-year-old Niagara Falls, Ontario native has had plenty of success in Canadian U Sports. In 2021 he won the Hec Crighton Trophy as the best player in Canadian university football, having completed 63% of his passes for 1,770 yards while throwing for 12 touchdowns against a half-dozen interceptions during a pandemic shortened campaign. He also scored three touchdowns on the ground, averaging an absurd 10.1 yards per carry.
Yet his best season came in 2018, when he completed 74% of his passes for 3,093 yards with a 30-2 touchdown to interception ratio, playoffs included. That year he also averaged nine yards per carry on the ground.
“I’m super confident in myself, my abilities as a quarterback and an athlete,” Ford told Dunk. “I (know) that I (have) NFL talent, I feel like I can definitely play there, get in games and compete. It’s ultimately trying to get NFL scouts to see that, but I can’t control that,” said Ford, who idolizes Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson.
“As one scout said to me,” Bertoia told Dunk: “‘In an NFL Draft that doesn’t have the greatest quarterback class, is there any harm that Tre Ford is a value-add as seventh-round pick that we could develop? What are we losing by taking him?’”
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