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2022 NFL Draft: Grading the Steelers first round selection of Kenny Pickett

The Pittsburgh Steelers have selected Pittsburgh Panthers QB Kenny Pickett with the 20th selection of the 2022 NFL Draft.

2021 ACC Championship - Pittsburgh v Wake Forest Photo by Logan Whitton/Getty Images

Great news, Steelers Nation. The 2022 NFL Draft is finally upon us. Every rabid football fans version of Christmas in April. This is uncharted waters for many younger Steelers fans. For the first time in almost two decades, the Steelers will be on the clock when their first round selection rolls around with some real uncertainty at the quarterback position. It is sure to be both an exciting and unsettling experience.

I have been given the distinguished task of trying to apply a letter grade to each Steelers selection.

There are specific criteria necessary when attempting to accurately and fairly grade any draft pick. Only time will reveal the validity of any grade given, but I will utilize certain parameters as I attempt to apply an initial grade for each Steelers draft pick. I base each grade on projected roster fit, potential immediate impact, and assumed draft value. Draft value is achieved by evaluating each players actual selection against their projected draft position, whether that be player rankings or projected round.

The Pittsburgh Steelers selected quarterback Kenny Pickett with the 20th selection of the 2022 NFL Draft. The fact that a quarterback was their first-round selection came as no real surprise to any Steelers fan who have been paying attention during the pre-draft process. General manager Kevin Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin never even tried to hide the fact they were doing their due diligence searching the 2022 quarterback draft class for potentially their next franchise guy.

What did come as a huge surprise for many was the signal caller that the Steelers eventually settled on. There seemed to be a burgeoning love affair blossoming between Liberty quarterback Malik Willis and the Steelers decision makers. In the end, the Steelers went with the player they knew best from this group of quarterback prospects.

Kenny Pickett will be 24 years old prior to the start of training camp. He is the most pro-ready quarterback in this class, in no small part due to his age and corresponding maturity.

Pickett stands 6'3" and weighs 220 lbs., giving him prototypical size for the position. He possesses solid athleticism and mobility, but his best attributes are from the neck up. Let's call it moxie, for lack of a better word.

Pickett has excellent vision and anticipation, allowing him to process through his progressions consistently. Kevin Colbert mentioned accuracy as a focal point for him in any quarterback evaluation, and Pickett has the best accuracy in this class in my opinion. Although Pickett doesn't have elite arm strength, he possesses more than enough arm talent to make the full spectrum of throws at the NFL level especially when you factor in the aforementioned accuracy, anticipation, and under discussed "touch" on his his throws.

There have been ample discussions about Pickett's less-than-ideal hand size for an NFL passer, but the Steelers obviously weren't concerned in the slightest about his tiny mitts. The Steelers apparently were more impressed by his competitiveness, and impacted by his impressive growth as both a player and leader for the Panthers, culminating with a magical senior season that saw him lead his team to an ACC Championship.

Pickett was a first-team All American, ACC Player of the Year, and he won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award. His incredible season saw him finish third in the 2021 Heisman Trophy voting. Equally as impressive to all of his personal accomplishments and accolades was the leadership he displayed in accumulating them. I truly believe that the Steelers valued that attribute more than most, especially for an unusually youthful Steelers roster on offense.

Based on the criteria mentioned earlier in this article, I give the Steelers first round selection of Kenny Pickett an initial draft grade of B+.

Pickett was projected to be taken in the first round, actually earlier than the 20th selection according to most projections. The Steelers confirmed that they have zero interest in a rebuilding period, or finishing towards the bottom of the AFC North. They remain committed to competing for the division, and determined to find their next quarterback capable of leading them there. Hopefully Kenny Pickett is that man.

Now we want to hear from the BTSC community and from Steelers Nation. What do you think about the Kenny Pickett selection and what initial grade would you give it. Please place your vote in the attached poll and share your reasoning in the comment section below.

I am pleased to welcome Kenny Pickett to the Steelers family on behalf of the BTSC staff and community. Go Steelers!


What initial draft grade would you give this Steelers selection?

This poll is closed

  • 36%
    A = Excellent selection
    (1300 votes)
  • 36%
    B = Above average selection
    (1283 votes)
  • 17%
    C = Solid selection
    (625 votes)
  • 5%
    D = Below average selection
    (208 votes)
  • 2%
    F = Terrible selection
    (105 votes)
3521 votes total Vote Now