Why Kenny Pickett is guaranteed a productive start with Steelers

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

The Steelers may not be in great shape right now, but that doesn’t mean this upcoming season won’t be an impactful one for rookie QB Kenny Pickett.

If the Steelers entered this last draft with any concerns about their potential at the quarterback position, they certainly don’t have any now. The headlining reason for this is because of Kenny Pickett, the local talent that they landed with their only pick of the first round.

The earliest 2022 quarterback selection by a convincing margin, Pickett’s combination of ceiling and college experience made him what was arguably the most NFL-ready QB on the board. However, the matter of whether or not he will be the starter for the Steelers this Fall is yet to be addressed.

Realistically, Pickett should be able to see a sizable amount of game time regardless of who is named the official starter entering the season. When considering the aforementioned circumstances under which Pittsburgh drafted him, why wouldn’t he be given a fair chance to show what he’s made of early on (especially when looking at the alternative options in the QB room)?

Ultimately, the amount of time he sees on the field and/or the bench will not matter, though, as this upcoming stretch for the Steelers will serve as quite the learning experience for him either way.

If he’s on the bench, he can be mentored by former Pro-Bowler Mitchell Trubisky and 4-year “veteran” Mason Rudolph, along with observing how the offense operates from a pupil’s perspective.

But when it comes to time spent on the gridiron, that will be exponentially more useful to Pickett for multiple reasons—and not just the obvious ones.

Looking at the undesirable conditions that surround Pittsburgh for 2022, Pickett starting for any portion of this approaching slate would give him some of the most jarring encounters that any rookie QB has seen in recent memory.

For reference, the Steelers play in what is one of the league’s toughest divisions today, have to face several playoff teams, and whoever their starting quarterback is will have to work with a mediocre offensive line and young/inexperienced weapons.

If that smorgasbord of misfortunes won’t give someone a rude awakening to what the NFL has in store for him, it’s hard to think of what will.

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The lack of stability that plagues Pittsburgh’s roster/depth chart—paired with their rocky 2022 schedule—leaves the predictability of their overall performance in a pit of obscurity. But as far as Kenny Pickett is concerned, progress is nonetheless promised, and that should be one of the team’s prime takeaways for the near future.