When Kenny Pickett was selected with the 20th overall selection in last year's NFL Draft out of Pitt, he was the man expected to fill Ben Roethlisberger's legendary shoes as the potential long-term signal caller for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Roethlisberger will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and thus succeeding him will be a tall task.
However, in his first year donning the black and gold, the Pitt product showed plenty of poise and maturity, while also showing flashes of the player he could become one day. While many pegged Pickett as the potential successor for Pittsburgh due to the obvious connection of sharing a facility with his college team, there was also tons of skepticism of Pickett's ability to start at the NFL level.
While Pickett played well as a rookie and gave plenty for Steelers' fans to be excited about, he did experience many of the growing pains to be expected from a rookie quarterback. If Pickett can clean up on the mistakes, there are many reasons that he could take the jump and ascend into a legitimate franchise quarterback in 2023.
4. An Improved Offensive Line
It is no secret that the offensive line has been a serious problem in Pittsburgh over the past few seasons. What was at one time considered one of the team's biggest strengths, had turned itself into the team's biggest liability in the past few years. However, last season the offensive line began to play a bit better as the season went along, showing signs of promise for this season.
The additions of James Daniels and Mason Cole last season proved to be valuable ones. While neither player was a superstar at their respective position, they were both solid for the team and helped stabilize the offensive line. Additionally, Chukwuma Okorafor, fresh off of an extension signed last offseason, put in his best season as a Steeler, as moving from left tackle over to right tackle served him well. While none of these three projects to be an elite option at their respective position, all three proved they can be capable starters last season.
However, the team didn't stop there; they knew they still needed to improve the unit. In free agency, Isaac Seumalo and Nate Herbig were brought in to bolster the offensive line further, and the team even traded up in the first round to select Ohio State offensive tackle, Broderick Jones. Seumalo figures to start opposite James Daniels at guard, to give the team two strong options on the interior in the starting lineup. Meanwhile, Herbig has struggled with injuries thus far in camp, but the big offensive lineman figures to provide some much-needed physicality and depth to the unit in case an injury were to arise.
As for Jones, the rookie will have to earn his spot and beat out the incumbent starter Dan Moore for the Left Tackle position. While this is no guarantee this will happen directly out of the gate, Moore struggled last year and has struggled again this year in camp, so it's only a matter of time before he earns the starting job. With the offensive line revamped, the team should have the best group up front it's had in recent years, and while that may not be saying much, if these new additions play up to their full potential, not only will that help Kenny Pickett continue to progress, but it will also help out with something else for this team