When the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Kenny Pickett 20th overall, and the first quarterback off the board, in the 2022 NFL Draft, the fan base was mixed on the selection. Some, especially those who follow the University of Pittsburgh, were thrilled with the selection. They viewed it as a steal at pick No. 20. Others were less than excited, focusing on things like his age and hand size.
Either way, throughout the offseason Pickett has gotten every opportunity to prove himself as the future quarterback of the organization. Mixed reviews early in Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and even training camp had fans wondering if the team made a mistake. However, as camp progressed and the preseason arrived, Pickett proved he is more than capable of quarterbacking the team.
How far has he progressed? He at least injected himself into the conversation for the starting quarterback job with Mitch Trubisky, and made Mason Rudolph more of an after thought. While Mike Tomlin hasn’t announced a starting quarterback for the team’s Week 1 matchup vs. the Cincinnati Bengals in Ohio, Pickett’s focus isn’t on his coach’s decision, it’s on getting better.
“I am just focused on getting better,” said Pickett. “Still learning a lot of things, getting my first true game plan going into Cincinnati. So, a lot of things I am learning, taking it all in stride and enjoying it.”
With this being Pickett’s first real preparation for a regular season game, he understands the difference between what he experienced in the preseason, and what is about to develop this week.
“A lot more goes into it,” said Pickett. “Preseason games you are focused more on yourself than the opponent. Now were starting to get into Cincinnati and game planning and scheming, seeing what we want to do versus them, so it’s definitely an adjustment.”
Nonetheless, what Pickett has experienced in-game throughout the Steelers’ 3-game preseason has been invaluable for not just his development, but also his confidence and readiness.
“Practice is incredibly important, but game reps, you can’t duplicate those in practice,” said Pickett. “Having those games reps under my belt heading into the season I think is incredibly important.
“All the positives that I built on from minicamp, OTAs, into camp and the preseason games,” said Pickett. “I thought I continued to get better. I just want to build off of that going into the season now.”
When the Steelers entered the 2022 season, the first without Ben Roethlisberger since 2003, no one knew what to think about the quarterbacks they were having in camp. Now, with the regular season on the doorstep, it isn’t the quarterback play which is the paramount concern. Whether Turbisky, Pickett or Rudolph, the fan base has a belief the Steelers are in a good spot with the quarterback position.
Now the offensive line, that’s a different story.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the Week 1 game vs. the Bengals in Cincinnati.