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2022 NFL Mock Draft: The Steelers look to add a familiar quarterback

In the latest mock draft, the Steelers look to add Pitt Panthers quarterback and Heisman finalist Kenny Pickett

North Carolina v Pittsburgh Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers are heading into the 2022 offseason. With free agency as the next big event to shape next season’s roster, it will be followed by the NFL draft in April. The Steelers will have a number of decisions with players who were on the 2021 roster and will have the opportunity to add some free agent acquisitions before making their first draft selection. With the NFL combine and player pro days appearing to be back on the table this in the coming months, there will hopefully be much more information in regards to draft prospects this year.

When talking about mock drafts or NFL free agency, you have to first identify the team’s main needs for the offseason. Before any gains or losses in free agency, there are some who would like to see the Steelers go with either offensive line or quarterback with their first-round pick. Others feel defensive line or cornerback could be on top of the list. With plenty of chances for the Steelers to shape their roster prior to April, their goal is usually to get into position to draft the best player available rather than target a specific position. When it comes to what position the team will select with their first pick, it is certainly up for debate.

In the latest one-round mock draft by CBSSports.com, they have the Steelers addressing the quarterback position before anything else. With the official announcement of Ben Roethlisberger’s retirement this week, I expected the national media to jump on the QB train. Since the Steelers could go in any number of directions with their first selection, it is important to look at all the possibilities presented by various mock draft outlets.

Check out the Steelers 20th pick:

20. Pittsburgh Steelers | Kenny Pickett | QB | Pittsburgh| RS Senior |

Being early in the draft process, there may be some players some fans may not be as familiar with. If this is the case, here is a breakdown of Pickett according to thedraftnetwork.com:

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 usion, and he does a great job of getting himself aligned to throw the ball with consistency. He navigates the pockett 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

For all you who are preparing yourself for the draft, what do you think of the selection? Would you be on board with the Steelers taking Pickett with their first pick? Or do you feel there is a better player at this position or a different one who may still be available? Personally, I’m of the thinking that the Steelers have a lot to replace before a young quarterback would have the best chance for success. If the Steelers invested more in there offensive line and their defense for 2022 I would be all for it. But if the Steelers have a chance to get a quarterback who they think could be the next big thing and be able to do it at the 20th pick, it would be hard for them to pass up. If the Steelers are not completely sold on Pickett and haven’t addressed the offensive line in free agency, I don’t want them to pull the trigger simply because he’s shared the facility with the Steelers for the last five years.