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2022 NFL Mock Draft: Todd McShay has the Steelers targeting a QB in Round 1

The Pittsburgh Steelers are far from done, but the mock drafts are just getting started.

NCAA Football: ACC Championship-Pittsburgh vs Wake Forest Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are not done with their 2021 regular season, they still have four games remaining, but the college football regular season is complete outside of bowl games. That means mock draft season is starting to get started!

You might be a Steelers fan who thinks it’s too early to look this far ahead, and if that is you then please just continue to move on throughout your day without thinking any more about this mock draft from ESPN’s Todd McShay.

However, I know for a fact many of you are fans who like to look ahead and potentially point out prospects who could find their way to Pittsburgh. The debate on team need vs. best player available is always a burning topic, and so is the team taking certain prospects at a position they deem to be too high, or low.

For McShay’s first mock draft leading up to the 2022 NFL Draft, he has the teams ranked based solely on their current regular season record. This puts the Steelers drafting 12th, and his pick for the black-and-gold will certainly raise some eyebrows, one way or another.

12. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-6-1)

Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh

The wait is over: A quarterback finally comes off the board, and Pittsburgh gets its pick of the top prospects. Ben Roethlisberger is likely in his final season, and his successor is not currently in the building. The Steelers’ offense has playmakers, but it needs someone who can distribute them the ball as the team tries to stay competitive in an AFC North division stacked with young franchise QBs. Pickett moves through his progressions and gets the ball out quickly, and he has the class’ best combination of pocket awareness, accuracy and decision-making — which I think are the three most critical traits when projecting a quarterback forward to the NFL.

For many of you, Pickett is a household name and one which fans of the University of Pittsburgh would welcome to the Steelers with open arms. But many suggest Pickett is a local product, and isn’t as well-known around the country, at least not before his memorable fake slide in the ACC Championship game vs. Wake Forest.

Either way, here is some more detailed information on Pickett, courtesy of The Draft Network:

Kenny Pickett NFL Draft Profile

  • Position: Quarterback
  • School: Pittsburgh
  • Current Year: Redshirt Senior
  • Height: 6’3″
  • Weight: 220 pounds

Kenny Pickett is an experienced and accomplished quarterback that had a meteoric rise in 2021, elevating his draft stock significantly along the way. A four-year starter, Pickett leaves Pittsburgh as the school’s all-time leading passer and he re-wrote the record books. Pickett brings good size, mobility, accuracy, poise, toughness, and leadership to the table. He is a terrific vertical passer that can work off-script and make things happen with his legs. He has terrific command and confidence running the offense and does a wonderful job of blending an aggressive mentality with consistently working his progressions and generally making good decisions with the football. His ascension as a prospect wasn’t due to a new offensive coaching staff or influx of talent around him. He’s had the same offensive coordinator since 2019 and a modest supporting cast. Pickett’s own improvements as a player and mastery of the system are the reason why he elevated his game. The system he ran didn’t include cheap production in the form of manufactured throws, Pickett simply worked his progressions and dealt all season long en route to a historically good campaign.

His process is synched up and coordinated, his upper and lower half are in unison, and he does a great job of getting himself aligned to throw the ball with consistency. He navigates the pocket and appears unbothered by chaos around him. When it comes to areas of concern entering the next level, his small hands and reconciling his elite 2021 season against a considerably large sample size of modest play is something to be considered. Pickett will also turn 24 before the start of his rookie season. While Pickett showcased good ball placement in 2021, there are some misfires and the ball can sail on him. In addition, he is guilty of aggressive decisions both in terms of slotting throws but also in how he navigates the pocket and addresses pressure. If 2021 is an indication of what Pickett can be moving forward, then there is no doubt about his ability to become a franchise quarterback in the NFL. With that said, blending all the layers of the evaluation together makes Pickett an interesting case study.

Ideal Role: Starting quarterback

Scheme Fit: Spread

So, while the draft is a long ways off, what do you think about the team potentially taking Pickett in the first round? Of course it will depend on what the official draft order is, but do you like the idea of taking any quarterback, not just Pickett, in the first round? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the Tennessee Titans in Week 15 at Heinz Field.