The 2022 NFL draft is now over, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are already thinking about where their first-round draft pick, former Pitt QB Kenny Pickett, will fit in their quarterback room.
The Steelers haven't had to ask themselves "who will be our starting quarterback?" since Ben Roethlisberger's first season in 2004. With Big Ben having sailed off into the sunset of retirement, the QB1 spot needs to be filled. And head coach Mike Tomlin is keeping an open mind about who could fit there. He isn't ruling anything out — including Pickett winning that starting job out of training camp.
"[Pickett] certainly has a chance [to be our Week 1 starter]," Tomlin said to NFL Network's Rich Eisen during Saturday's coverage of the draft. "I agree with that sentiment of his readiness from a professional perspective."
Pickett was the only quarterback taken in the first or second round of this year's draft, owing to a QB class that wasn't the strongest. But Tomlin is confident the Steelers made the right choice taking Pickett with the 20th pick.
"It was two things that really attracted us to him from a floor standpoint," Tomlin explained. "We thought he had pro-level anticipation. We thought he had pro-level accuracy. Often times, those are two variables that really require a lot of adjustment from a quarterbacking standpoint. We felt he came ready-made in those ways. Hopefully that's an asset to him in terms of being able to compete and being ready, if his performance dictates it."
Who will Pickett battle for the starting QB spot?
Pickett will be competing against former Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills quarterback Mitch Trubisky (also a first-rounder) and Big Ben's former backup Mason Rudolph for that starting spot. And he already has a head start: Not only do the Steelers share a facility with Pitt's football team, Pickett told reporters on Friday that he already knows Trubisky and has spoken with him. Those things have already helped him feel at ease so he can go out and try to win that starting job.
"Two great guys. I'm really looking forward to working with them," Pickett said." ... There's comfort but there's a job at hand and I know what I have to do. I know how to go about my business so I'm really excited to be here."
The Steelers are facing a lot of uncertainty right now, but Tomlin is excited about the future and taking it all in stride.
"One of the things that was very evident about Kenny being next door is he's just a ridiculous competitor," said Tomlin, "so we're just excited about putting him in the mix and watching him compete against Mitch and Mason and seeing where that leads us."