Steelers rumors: Pittsburgh would take QB Sam Howell over Kenny Pickett

North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Sam Howell (7). Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Sam Howell (7). Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

A recent Steelers rumor suggests Pittsburgh would rather have quarterback Sam Howell over Kenny Pickett in the 2022 NFL Draft. Here’s why that could be the case. 

The end of an era is coming quickly in Pittsburgh. Ben Roethlisberger has been a staple to this team for 18 years but is highly unlikely to return to the Steelers following the 2021 season — his subpar play and the fact that the team already owes him over $10 million on a voidable-year deal next season is testament to this.

There’s no question that the Steelers are going to have their eyes on a quarterback in 2022 — whether this is through free agency or the NFL Draft. However, I can almost assure you that Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert are going to be doing their homework on the quarterbacks coming out this year.

Recently, Andrew Fillipponi claims that KDKA reporter Rich Walsh talked to a Steelers source who says the team likes North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell more than Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett:

If you have been following these quarterbacks closely this year, it’s not hard to figure out which player had the better season. While Howell’s junior campaign was a bit of a disappointment, Kenny Pickett had an absurdly good season in 2021.

So why would the Steelers reportedly like Howell more than Pickett?

Howell checks more boxes for Steelers

It’s important to remember that this is just a rumor and that the Steelers aren’t always going to show their hand. However, despite what you may have seen from these two passers this season, there is reason to believe that Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert could be feeling this way, as Sam Howell checks more boxes the team typically looks for.

While Howell is certainly shorter than the quarterback the Steelers typically look for, he’s got a huge arm, three years of great production, and is a young underclassman (will still be 21 years old before the start of his rookie season). His youth alone would give Pittsburgh time to roll with a stop-gap starter until they can strengthen their roster. In the meantime, Howell could continue to develop.

Tomlin also has to love the fact that Howell is a very good athlete. This has been a point the Steelers head coach has clearly emphasized during press conferences this season, and I would be surprised if they didn’t go with a quarterback with good mobility after Roethlisberger.

Meanwhile, Kenny Pickett had a great season in 2021, but his upside might be a bit capped. While Pickett has drawn comparisons to both Derek Carr and Joe Burrow, he doesn’t have quite as many tools to work with as either of these passers. Pickett has just an average arm (for NFL standards), and his tiny hands could force him to wear gloves for his entire professional career.

Additionally, Pickett is escapable, but not really a threat to take off and run with the football, and the fifth-year senior will turn 24 years old this summer.

Related Story. 4 key questions Steelers must answer to beat the Ravens. light

The Steelers have no doubt been scouting these quarterbacks all along, and if the rumor that they like Howell better than Pickett is true, it’s certainly interesting. We will learn more early in the 2022 offseason.