The Pittsburgh Steelers are in search of a franchise quarterback. it just so happens that there are a number of college quarterbacks looking to be franchise players for NFL teams, having declared for the 2022 NFL Draft to be held next month. There are about five or six of them who could be drafted in the first round, including one the Steelers are very familiar with in Pitt’s Kenny Pickett.
Coming off of a breakout 11-2 season, Picket threw 42 touchdown passes for the Panthers last year to just seven interceptions, throwing for more than 4,000 yards and breaking records set by none other than Dan Marino along the way. All told, he believes he has the resume of the top quarterback in this draft class, and that is what he believes he is.
“I am. I am. I think so. I think there’s a lot of reasons for it”, he told Adam Breneman recently while stopping over his show, Breneman Shows Up. It was part of a long and wide-ranging conversation about his past playing career and his future, which included this discussion of why he believes he will be the top quarterback this year.
“You look at the game now and how it’s changing. I’m a mobile guy that came in a West Coast, pro-style system”, he said. “I started in a program that was 5-7 the first year I was in it, we left as ACC champions, 11-2. So I know how to win. I know the process that it takes to get there. It’s never an easy thing”.
And what’s more, he believes that his experiencing in helping to transform the Panthers program into a winner—they won the ACC, as he mentioned, though they went on to lose their bowl game, in which Pickett did not play—will set him up for more immediate success at the next level.
“I feel like I’ll make that transition faster in the NFL now because of that experience, and I know how to go about my business as a pro, kind of being an older guy”, Pickett explained. “I think at the end of the day, that’s what, coming out of the position, can you win? Do you know how to handle all the things that it takes to be a quarterback? And I definitely do. So I think, yeah, I am QB1”.
The other quarterbacks whose names generally get thrown around in first-round mock drafts are Malik Willis, Sam Howell, Carson Strong, Matt Corral, and Desmond Ridder. The Steelers have shown a level of interest in all of them, including taking a number of them out for dinner in advance of their Pro Day workouts.
None of them have the connection to Pittsburgh that Picket has, of course, spending his college career literally playing in the same stadium. He personally knows head coach Mike Tomlin as well as many of the players on the Steelers’ roster, so it would certainly be an easy transition to stay in the city.