The Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 NFL Draft class was highlighted by their top two picks. Kenny Pickett, quarterback out of the University of Pittsburgh, and George Pickens, wide receiver out of the University of Georgia.
These two offensive playmakers have the opportunity, and ability, to make the Steelers’ offense more dynamic in the coming years, but reports coming out of the draft certainly lend different narratives to both selections following the picks.
According to ESPN’s senior NFL writer Jeremy Fowler, the Steelers made their desire to draft Kenny Pickett known to almost everyone. That would include the quarterbacks on the team’s roster.
The Steelers scoured the country for quarterbacks in the draft but didn’t reveal their plans. The feeling among some of the Steelers’ players (even in the QB room) is that if Pittsburgh did draft a signal-caller, Kenny Pickett would be the guy. Mitch Trubisky was loosely prepared for this potential dynamic — what GM Kevin Colbert calls a competition with those two, along with Mason Rudolph.
For those Steelers fans who were hoping the team would select Malik Willis with their pick at No. 20, the Willis camp didn’t think there was a chance he’d fall past the Steelers.
But I also heard from someone close to Malik Willis who largely did not expect the QB to fall past the Steelers at No. 20, believing his upside would be enough to sway Pittsburgh at its spot. The team did do a lot of research on Willis during the process.
As we know now, the Steelers passed on Willis, and so did every other team in the league until the Tennessee Titans trade up to draft him in the 3rd Round.
When it comes to the Steelers’ second round pick, George Pickens, he has long been considered a player when both healthy and focused could be one of the top receivers in the game. The fact the Steelers got him at pick No. 52 was astonishing, but, as Fowler points out, also put Pickens in a great spot to thrive with the security the Steelers organization provides.
In the second round, wide receiver George Pickens entered an ideal scenario. Questions about his work ethic swirled around draft time. Many evaluators thought, on talent alone, he belonged in the conversation with the top wideouts, but he ended up going No. 52. Pickens and people close to him are happy he is going to a good environment like Pittsburgh’s to learn from trusted veterans and absorb a model NFL culture.
As stated earlier, Pickens is a player with a tremendous amount of potential. A lack of focus and work ethic might have had many NFL teams shy away from drafting the Georgia Bulldog wideout. Fowler states the slip to Day 2 could be just what Pickens needs to get him on the straight and narrow.
The truth about Pickens is he was heralded as a five-star talent since high school and probably let his focus slip at times. But being a first-round talent and slipping to Day 2 should refocus him in Pittsburgh.
The Steelers will be relying on these two players, Pickett and Pickens, to be mainstays within the offense for years to come. Will they pan out? Will they develop a connection similar to some of the other great Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback-to-receiver connections in team history?
Only time will tell, but the Steelers have to be excited about the potential they have on the offense after free agency and the NFL Draft.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and minicamps.