Will Kenny Pickett have a better career than Steelers legend Ben Roethlisberger?

Steelers, Kenny Pickett
Steelers, Kenny Pickett / Michael Owens/GettyImages

The Pittsburgh Steelers are excited to begin preparation for the upcoming season. An impressive showing from their rookie quarterback last season was enough for fans to remain optimistic heading into the new campaign.

Kenny Pickett demonstrated leadership qualities, executed in the clutch, and assisted in his teammates' development. Owners inside of Pittsburgh's front office believe No.8 will become the Steelers franchise quarterback - but can he surpass the legacy of Ben Roethlisberger?

Kenny Pickett should receive more credit for a creditable rookie season

Comparing Pickett to Roethlisberger may seem premature, but these quarterbacks share similarities. Expectations were high for both gunslingers before taking their first snap under center. Roethlisberger exceeded expectations, winning the Associated Press Rookie of the Year honors in 2004.

Regular season accolades were not a part of Kenny Pickett's rookie storyline. His journey began with hard work in the off-season. A quarterback competition against Mitchell Trubiksy provided No.8 with enough confidence to win over the starting job - saving Pittsburgh from their first losing season since 2003. He finished his first year under center ranked second among rookie quarterbacks in passing yards per game (184.9) and touchdown passes (7).

Pickett's stats do not jump off the page, but his performances in clutch moments show glimpses of potential. In 2022, No.8 had three comebacks and four game-winning drives - including an incredible touchdown pass to Najee Harris against the Ravens in Week 17.

Steelers are familiar with relying on gifted rookie quarterbacks

This is not the first time we've witnessed the Steelers groom a former first-round pick. In 2004, Pittsburgh sought to solve their quarterback woes entering the NFL draft. A disappointing 6-10 record in the previous season forced the front office to invest in a cornerstone player. With the 11th pick, the Steelers selected Ben Roethlisberger - a strong-armed quarterback from the University of Miami (OH).

Roethlisberger's determination and toughness helped him persevere through an 18-season career. His leadership resulted in two Super Bowl Wins (XL, XLIII). He threw 418 touchdown passes and accumulated 64,088 yards passing. As fans continue to root for a clean transition between the two quarterbacks, is it fair to expect the same results from Pickett?

The Steelers are in a minor rebuilding phase but are making moves to compete in the future. On April 20, the Steelers received Allen Robinson from the Las Angeles Rams - adding more depth to their developing receiving core. George Pickens and Pat Freiermuth proved their reliability last season - combining for more than half of Pickett's passing yards (1,533). With numerous weapons available on offense and a year of experience, Kenny Pickett will improve.

Ben Roethlisberger's career should be the benchmark for any incoming Steelers rookie quarterback. He persevered against all odds - adding to the legacy of the finest franchise in football. We expect Pittsburgh's front office to have similar expectations for their new man under center.

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If he could not continue the success of the franchise, he would not play. Roethlisberger and Pickett are the only quarterbacks the Steelers have drafted in the first round since 1980 (Mark Malone). Mike Tomlin and his staff are confident in their young star and believe he will carry the torch.