Getty NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announces a pick from the Pittsburgh Steelers.
It’s no secret. The Pittsburgh Steelers need a quarterback. The statement has been true for the past few seasons, but never truer than it is today. Sure, Pittsburgh made a big splash early in free agency with the signing of Mitch Trubisky, but it’s not predicted to be the long-term answer. And with the sudden and tragic passing of Dwayne Haskins, the team now has only two in the quarterback room when general manager Kevin Colbert has repeatedly said he wants four before training camp.
Trubisky’s most recent addition looks more like a temporary fix: a bridge to one of the young quarterbacks in the 2022 NFL draft class, since they’re all development projects. Although the NFL is a sport where absolutely anything can happen, and has, Trubisky has yet to demonstrate the franchise-carrying ability that every team seeks.
It’s foolish to believe the Steelers will be lucky enough to land that franchise player the same season after Ben Roethlisberger’s retirement, but that shouldn’t stop the team from trying. Mitch Trubiskys could take years to find his next Ben Roethlisberger.
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The Holy Grail
Many draftniks predict the search begins this month, April 2022. While some mock drafts have the Steelers selecting an offensive or defensive lineman with the 20th overall pick, most project Pittsburgh will take a cue call.
ESPN veteran draft analyst Mel Kiper’s crystal ball forecasts quarterback for the Black and Gold. “I couldn’t walk away from the quarterback,” Kiper told Heavy, “especially in that division.”
“I keep hearing the name Desmond Ridder, but with [Kenny] Pickett there, I had to give them Pickett,” he said.
Kiper thinks Pickett isn’t a top-10 quarterback, but he’s irresistible if he falls past the 19th pick. In Kiper’s latest mock draft, that’s exactly how the names came off the board. Liberty’s Malik Willis was the first quarterback taken by the Atlanta Falcons at No. 8.
I would feel much more comfortable taking Pickett here than in the top 10. The best case scenario is that he becomes Derek Carr, and his floor is an Andy Dalton, who is not a bad quarterback by any means. Pittsburgh can win with that. Still, those two were taken in Round 2 and didn’t have the expectations of Round 1 around them. If Pickett falls into the Steelers’ lap here, it would be hard to pass up. And he has a little more potential than Mitch Trubisky.
To say that Pickett has “a little more head start than Mitch Trubisky” is far from an enthusiastic endorsement. But the very quarterback he’s being compared to is the reason the Steelers are in a good position for a rookie who needs some work.
Steelers bosses saw something in Trubisky that triggered the acquisition. They think he has starting potential. After all, they signed him to a $14 million contract, that’s not endorsement money.
Pickett was a Heisman Trophy finalist after a breakout season in which he led Pitt to their first conference title. He concluded the 2021 season with a 67.2% completion rate and records for passing yards (4,319) and touchdowns (42) with just seven interceptions thrown.
But it wasn’t always sunshine and lollipops for the Jersey-born field general. Pickett was a slightly above-average quarterback in the four seasons leading up to his tremendous fifth-year senior campaign.
Pickett is the most NFL-ready quarterback of the top prospects, but as his college career was, so could the pros.
If Pickett falls to the Steelers, they’re prepared to set him up. And it could be worth it.
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Mel Kiper Projects Steelers take QB with ‘a little more edge’ than Mitch Trubisky – Home