The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for the 2022 regular season, but before the real games begin, the team has to head to training camp back at St. Vincent College in order to fine tune their skills. As we here at BTSC prepare you for the start of camp, we give you a series called “30 Scenarios in 30 Days” which gives you a Steelers scenario every day leading up to the start of camp.
It is simple how it works. We provide you the scenario, reasons why it will or won’t happen, and then our prediction for what we think will take place.
Let’s get to the scenario...
Scenario: Quarterback Kenny Pickett will still be 3rd on the depth chart in Week 1
Why it will happen: It’s where he is starting going into training camp. Although he will have every opportunity to win the starting job, Kenny Pickett will only move up the depth chart if the Steelers choose to do it before Week 1 based on his play, or if one of the other players above him is not available due to injury, trade, or release.
First let’s look at the potential change in personnel. Since it seems futile to predict injuries, it comes down to the other two factors. Releasing one of the two quarterbacks, although possible, would be surprising. As for a trade, I’d say it’s fair to say there’s a 50–50 chance, but I would also say that it’s also about a 50–50 chance whether or not that trade happens prior to Week 1 instead of during the season once another team is dealing with injury. Based on that, the odds are greater that the position group will remain the same for Week 1 than one of the players ahead of Pickett being traded or released.
Now looking at Pickett’s play and his ability to move up the depth chart, let’s look at the chances of him landing at either the number one or number two spot. The last quarterback drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers to start Week 1 of his rookie season was Terry Bradshaw in 1970. But he was the number one overall pick and took over a 1–13 team. So based on Steelers history, the odds of Pickett moving up to start right away as a rookie are stacked against him.
The bigger question comes in who the Steelers will want to have active on game day as their number two option. Will the Steelers want to have the rookie in a situation where he would have to come off the bench in an emergency during his very first game? With the two other options currently ahead of Pickett on the depth chart both having NFL starts and games where they came off the bench, if they could be the safer option, at least for Week 1, based on their experience. So even if Pickett is deemed to be more capable than the Steeler second option, it might not be a scenario that the Steelers want to put their rookie quarterback into if they can avoid it.
Why it won’t happen: The Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t drafted a quarterback in the first round in 18 years. With that quarterback retiring this last season, the next man is up for the future needs to be ready to go. If Kenny Pickett proves that he’s worthy and capable of starting, get him out there Week 1 so he can get as much experience as possible. He was deemed “the most pro-ready quarterback in the 2022 NFL draft,” he’s already 24-years old, and if the Steelers weren’t looking to have him ready right away then why bother to draft him?
Even if Kenny Pickett isn’t the starter right away, he’s got to at least be the second best quarterback on the team. If he’s not ready to be the man, he can learn a lot by being the number two guy. And if the Steelers can pull it off, trading Mason Rudolph and getting something out of him is in their best interest.
Prediction: This explanation might take some more time, but I am going to agree with the scenario. One of the biggest reasons is so many of the factors fall in a way to have Kenny Pickett inactive the first week of the season based on this question…
I’m definitely not saying this is what I want. But it just sounds like a Steelers move. If Charlie Batch had not been hurt in 2004, would Ben Roethlisberger have been active for Week 1 of his rookie season? Probably not.
It’s not unheard of for a first-round quarterback to not be active for a team to start the year. Jordan Love spent his entire rookie season inactive for the Green Bay Packers as they opted to have a more experienced player ready to step in during a game if needed.
For fans who are so quick to ship Mason Rudolph out of town, are you sure that is something the Steelers are looking to do, not just their fans? If they do make a trade prior to Week 1, then Kenny Pickett should definitely get a helmet. But if they haven’t, and Mitch Trubisky is named the starter, are the Steelers going to feel like Kenny Pickett had enough practice time to step in and run the offense in his very first game ahead of someone who’s been with the team the last four seasons?
As for the notion of Pickett being “the most pro-ready quarterback in the 2022 NFL draft,” so what? There wasn’t even another quarterback taken until the third round. Was he more pro-ready than the players in the 2021 draft? Because only time will tell if comparing Pickett to the rest of the 2022 quarterback class is the standard in which he should ultimately be measured.
I know this is an unpopular opinion. But, ultimately, it’s not something that’s surprising when you look at how the Pittsburgh Steelers operate. The last thing they want to do is put themselves in a situation that could inhibit the growth of Kenny Pickett if they don’t have to. After all, it’s only the first week of the season and a lot can happen from September to January.
Check out yesterday’s ‘30 Scenarios in 30 Days’ prediction:
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the 2022 regular season.