The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team who rarely finds themselves befuddled during the course of an NFL Draft. The 2022 NFL Draft was no different. When the Steelers’ pick came up at No. 20, they wasted little time making their pick.
University of Pittsburgh, QB, Kenny Pickett.
Immediately, from the moment the pick was made, a ripple effect took place throughout the Steelers organization. Some will benefit from the pick, while others will be on the losing side of the selection.
This is where the winners and losers column comes into play. I go through who could be labeled as ‘winners’ after the pick of Pickett, and those who could be labeled ‘losers’.
Let’s get down to it...
Why: The fact Pickett is staying close to where he has called home the past five years is a positive. The fact he was the only quarterback taken in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft has to have the former Pitt Panther riding high. Pickett will stay where he is comfortable, but now is when the pressure really starts for the Heisman finalist. Nonetheless, every player who is drafted in the first round is an automatic winner at this point.
Why: I think it is safe to say the Steelers have given Canada every opportunity to get his offense in place, and to be successful. The additions along the offensive line in free agency, the selection of Najee Harris in the 2021 draft and now Pickett being the top pick in 2022. If Canada’s offense doesn’t work now, the blame can’t be shouldered on anyone other than the person putting the players in the right place to succeed. Still, Canada has to be thrilled to have Pickett as his future quarterback in his scheme.
Why: During Round 1 of the draft the BTSC staff were watching the selection process together via Zoom, and after Pickett was the pick Geoffrey Benedict said how this pick really benefits Diontae Johnson. He said a quarterback like Malik Willis would not have been the best bet for Johnson, but Pickett could provide the wide receiver a quarterback who is both willing, and capable, of pumping him the football like Ben Roethlisberger did for a long time.
Why: This is Colbert’s last go around with the Steelers as the active General Manager (GM), and he went down with a big swing. Did he hit a home run? Did he swing and miss? We might not know for a while, but he sure went down swinging. I give him credit. He wanted to leave Mike Tomlin, and the next GM, with the next quarterback.
Why: Just like last year, Pickett has been mocked to the Steelers for a large majority of the offseason, and it is always nice to see those crazy mock drafters get a pick or two right once in a while. Figured I’d throw them a bone.
Why: So put yourself in Mitch Trubisky’s shoes for a minute. You’re brought in on the first possible day of free agency and you think you have a new lease on life as the Steelers’ quarterback. Fast forward a month, or so, later, and now the team you thought you’d be leading for the foreseeable future just spent a first round pick on a quarterback. Not ideal, and you have to wonder if Trubisky isn’t viewing any time he gets in Pittsburgh as nothing more than a tryout for another future team at this point in his career.
Why: Last year the Steelers signed Rudolph to a one-year extension as an insurance policy. Rudolph wisely took the deal, but likely never thought he’d end up potentially being dropped to QB3 on the depth chart. This isn’t to suggest Rudolph can’t win a quarterback competition, but at the same time he has an uphill battle ahead of him. Fans are wondering if the Steelers will dangle Rudolph via trade, and that seems to be far fetched with only three quarterbacks on the current depth chart.
Why: Willis has been predicted to go anywhere from the Top 10 to pick No. 32, but no one projected Willis to still be without a team after Day 1. Willis is a dynamic player, but also a project. The Steelers could have taken Willis if they liked him, but they took Pickett with the “higher floor” as Colbert said in his post-draft press conference.
For a more in-depth breakdown of the Winners and Losers, check out my “Let’s Ride” podcast in the player below: