The Pittsburgh Steelers seem to be a very fortunate franchise. No, not just because of their six Super Bowl championships, but because of the future of the quarterback position. Unlike the long drought of mediocre to sub-par quarterbacks following the retirement of legendary gunslinger Terry Bradshaw, the Steelers seem to have improved their fortune just one year after future Hall of Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger called it a career.
Just weeks after Roethlisberger officially announced his retirement, the Steelers selected Kenny Pickett in the first round, 20th overall, in the 2022 NFL Draft. Skeptics were omnipresent in regards to Pickett being the best of a very average quarterback class.
When Mitch Trubisky was named the starter to begin the season, many thought Pickett would be more of a spectator than playmaker in his first professional season. That all changed at halftime in Week 4 against the New York Jets when Mike Tomlin pulled the plug on the Trubisky experiment and turned to his rookie, the future.
The future looked bleak at times, and the many doubters of Pickett’s draft status and overall ability felt validated. But what happened after he got through a murderer's row of defenses to start his career was remarkable. Pickett wasn’t lighting up the scoreboard, but was showing steady progress and improvement. He stopped turning the ball over, and started to make routine plays routinely.
Fast forward to the last two games, and fans have witnessed Pickett show he has the “clutch gene” which so many professional quarterbacks lack. Roethlisberger had it, and it seems the Steelers next quarterback does too.
Throughout the season, Ben Roethlisberger has spoken about Pickett on his podcast “Footbahlin’ with Ben Roethlisberger” and he’s always given a fair review of his performances. However, on the most recent episode Roethlisberger provided more detail, and honesty, into what he sees out of the former Pitt quarterback.
Take a look at the segment in the video below:
For those who might not be able to see the video, Roethlisberger’s quote is below:
“I’m a big man. I can say this. I wasn’t sure what to expect from Kenny. I know he played great at Pitt, and did a lot of great things, but, coming in, I wasn’t sure what to think. I didn’t know enough.
“Early on I said I think he’ll be good. There’s no problems. I’m not jealous or anything, there’s nothing to be jealous about. I think he’ll be a good player for them, what they’re looking for.
“I severely, in my opinion, underestimated Kenny. I think he throws the ball better than I thought. He runs way better than I thought. I don’t know if he’s faster or more just more elusive, but he runs the ball way better than I expected and thought. His decision making is really good. His leadership and toughness, just enough of an edge to him, it looks like.
“I apologize, not that I made this vocal to anyone, but, in my head what I want to say is, “Kenny, keep doing what you’re doing.” Because you are leading this team, and becoming the guy everyone was hoping you would be. I think the sky’s the limit for him.”
Roethlisberger’s honest, and glowing, remarks about Pickett will validate those who have been vocal supporters of Pickett throughout the season. Will it be enough to bring the skeptics on board? That has yet to be seen, but it was good to hear an honest take from Roethlisberger regarding the player many are viewing as the heir apparent to the Steelers quarterback throne.
As always, let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the team as they prepare for the Cleveland Browns in Week 18.