Latest Steelers mock draft has Pittsburgh going QB in first round

Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback Kenny Pickett (8) . Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback Kenny Pickett (8) . Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

The Pittsburgh Steelers will soon be in desperate need of a franchise quarterback. Here’s why CBS has them going with Pitt star, Kenny Pickett. 

Ben Roethlisberger had quite the resurgence on Sunday Night Football in Week 11. Traveling to the west coast on a separate plane after dealing with COVID-19, Big Ben lit up the Chargers secondary in what would unfortunately still be a losing effort.

While his strong performance in Week 11 gives Steelers fans hope that this team could make a push down the stretch, it doesn’t change the fact that Pittsburgh will soon be looking for their next franchise quarterback. Roethlisberger turns 40 years old next offseason and his overall performance hasn’t been good enough to warrant paying him a new deal on top of the dead money the Steelers will be eating with his voidable-year contract.

Recently, CBS Sports NFL Draft analyst, Ryan Wilson, published his first-round mock draft for the upcoming 2022 NFL Draft. He had the Steelers picking 18th overall and selecting Pitt quarterback, Kenny Pickett. Here’s what Wilson had to say about the selection:

"We love what Pickett’s accomplished this season but we also didn’t give him a first-round grade. But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t had a fantastic season, or that he’ll end up being among the first 32 selections. It’s hard to imagine 39-year-old Ben Roethlisberger returns for another season and if he doesn’t, Mason Rudolph has yet to prove he’s earned the starting gig behind him. Pickett, meanwhile, will continue to make his case over the final few games of the season and then, of course, the pre-draft process that will likely include a Senior Bowl appearance."

Wilson makes a case for a quarterback in the same way that many before him have: Ben Roethlisberger is ancient and Mason Rudolph has not proved that he could be the answer. Assuming Pickett is on the board, this pick would make sense for a number of reasons.

Pickett is a fit with Steelers

In the grand scheme of things, the fact that Kenny Pickett is a local product who is already familiar with the facility and spent the past five years playing at Heinz Field is only a small piece of the pie. But Pickett is still a good fit with the Steelers for other reasons.

While he doesn’t have anywhere near the same arm talent that Ben Roethlisberger did coming out of Miami (OH) back in 2004, Pickett still checks nearly all of the boxes Pittsburgh typically looks for in a quarterback.

At 6’3” and 220, Pickett has very good size for the position, and he has shown immense improvement in his redshirt senior season. When it comes to production, there isn’t anything more a team could ask for. In 11 games so far in 2021, Pickett has thrown for 3,857 yards, 36 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions, via Sports Reference. He’s averaged a remarkable 10.1 adjusted yards per attempt and has pitched in 4 additional scores on the ground.

For the Steelers, Pickett has enough college experience that he could start right away if need be. He would give Pittsburgh another big, cold-weather quarterback that can get outside the pocket and make plays down the field — something this team hasn’t had since Ben’s younger years.

Trending. 3 Steelers who should be locks to make the Pro Bowl in 2021. light

As of now, there seems to be a reasonable chance that Kenny Pickett is already off the board at this point in the 2022 NFL Draft. However, if he’s available, it would be hard for a quarterback-needy team like the Steelers to pass him up.