Entering the 2022 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers had a number of draft needs that they needed to address. Unlike in 2021, where the decreased salary cap caused the team to lean on their rookies early, the Steelers possessed a full allotment of draft picks without any glaring need on their roster.
With seven total picks, the following positions could be viewed as a priority entering the selection process: safety, offensive tackle, pass rusher, wide receiver and even inside linebacker. Those positions, and more, were positions of need to help the black-and-gold get to the next level in 2022. There have been numerous thoughts and debates regarding what the team will do in Round 1 of the NFL Draft.
When the dust settled, the Steelers have selected University of Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett, with their first pick in the draft.
The move puts Pickett, who is the most NFL-ready quarterback in this draft class, in a familiar spot as the Pitt Panthers and the Steelers share a facility on the southside of Pittsburgh.
For those who want to know more about Pickett, here is what the BTSC Big Board had on Pickett:
Andrew Wilbar: I have been a big fan of Pickett’s ever since he stepped foot on campus at Pitt. I stood up for him when fans were disgruntled with the offense, and before he decided to return to school for 2021, I was a big proponent of taking a late-round flier on him. I was not surprised when he had his breakout season in 2021, but he has risen too high on the national draft boards for my liking. Pickett is a very solid quarterback who has a decent arm and sneaky good athleticism, but he is older than some of the other quarterbacks in this class, and he does not have an incredibly high ceiling as a pro. The biggest issue, especially for teams that play in cold weather, will be his incredibly small hands. Pickett participated in the 2022 Senior Bowl, but he struggled badly in practices when it was raining. There is no denying that he lost his accuracy and struggled to push the ball downfield when the weather got rough. Rumor has it that his hands are right around eight inches, which would be historically small, but we will have to wait for the official measurement at the combine. Pickett’s accuracy improved by leaps and bounds this season, but he sometimes struggled to get off his first read and get through his progressions before the pressure got to him. He reminds me a lot of Kirk Cousins when it comes to his ability to roll out to his weak side, and his delivery and arm strength remind me of a Derek Carr or an Andy Dalton. The big question will be, “Is he capable of anything greater than that?”. That is what teams are going to have to determine over the next few months when it comes to Pickett and how high he should be taken.
For another view of what Pickett brings to the Steelers, here is a draft profile from NFL.com:
Pickett has five years of game experience and four years of starting experience for Pitt. He’s a fairly toolsy pocket passer with good mobility. He operated in a passing scheme featuring vertical concepts that created big-play opportunities but left food on the plate when he failed to play chess against the back-end of the coverage. Pickett works with average anticipation but drives the ball with good velocity, which should help him shine in pre-draft passing drills. Pickett’s touch and placement need work, but his accuracy stats were damaged by an inordinate amount of drops throughout his career. The top indicator for future success or failure will likely rest in a team’s ability to build Pickett’s trust, poise and discipline from the pocket. He can make all the throws, but he’ll only be able to execute against disguised fronts and NFL pressure if he’s willing to hang in and win with his eyes first. He carries a boom/bust label, but the 2021 tape and productivity showed off his potential to become a good starter in time.
- Broke Dan Marino’s Pitt passing records.
- Comes from athletic family and bloodlines.
- Has good size and all the physical tools needed as a pro.
- Jaw-dropping improvement across the board from 2020.
- TD-INT ratio went from 13:9 in 2020 to 42:7 in 2021.
- Passing scheme required full-field reads.
- Good recognition and decisions on combo-route throws to all levels.
- Potential to get better at recalibrating reads with more work.
- Worked with improved anticipation and tight spiral throwing into windows.
- Velocity to stay ahead of closing coverage.
- Arm strength to push deep outs without a problem.
- Able to extend the play and win on the move with his arm.
- Arm talent to make off-platform throws.
- Elusiveness to escape a free runner and scramble for yards.
- Some scarring from previous protection issues.
- Nervous feet and poise can get the best of him despite clean pockets.
- Drifts outside pocket rather than climbing to scan.
- Feet don’t always follow his eyes when throwing.
- Poor placement and touch added to drop issues.
- Finesse throws into buckets are below average.
- Better timing would prevent contested catches.
- Can improve at making leading throws.
- Doesn’t throw with much of an expedited release.
- Needs to take the incompletion instead of the sack.
But what do you think about the selection? Let us know your thoughts in the poll below!
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For more information on the Steelers taking Pickett at No. 20 overall, check out the Breaking News podcast below: