Among the biggest questions left to be answered entering Day 1 of the 2022 NFL Draft was how this year’s crop of quarterbacks would be valued by the NFL. Where the QB-needy teams were positioned in the first round left a wide range of outcomes as to where the potential top prospects could land, and the early range of those selections was later than normal, with no teams inside the top five expected to consider a passer.
In the end, every quarterback in the class was available when the Pittsburgh Steelers ended up on the clock at the 20th overall pick. The Steelers got their choice of the entire class, and went with the player they had ranked highest on their board, Pitt University’s Kenny Pickett.
In a post-pick press conference, Steeler GM Kevin Colbert expressed his belief that he didn’t think Pickett would last to the Steelers’ selection. While he didn’t think he would eventually get the player he wanted, on the other end of that selection, Pickett knew that the Steelers remained a possibility, and that he could end up there, or at an earlier spot in the opening round.
“Yeah, I thought the board was pretty open to be honest,” Pickett said, in a conference call with the media following the selection. “I had a range of about 6 to 20 that I felt like was the range I could go in. I was just waiting for the call.”
As Pickett passed the speed bumps that were between he and getting to remain in the city he played his college ball in, Pittsburgh fans were left going over those speed bumps with him, as they waited to see if their preferred quarterback selection would last to the team’s spot at 20th overall.
The start of Pickett’s declared range was Carolina at sixth overall, but the Panthers went with tackle Ikem Ekwonu instead. New Orleans offered another major hurdle, picking at 11 and 19 overall, but went receiver and tackle, instead. A surprise Detroit trade up to 12 turned out to be for a receiver and not a QB, and other teams in the background who could have potentially selected Pickett — Washington, Atlanta, Seattle, and Houston — bypassed the position in favor of other needs.
That left Pickett sliding down the board to Pittsburgh at 20, who wasted no time in giving him the call.
“I was just waiting for the call. I wish there was a game that you could go play or something you can figure out where you’re going. It’s something that’s out of your control. I felt like I put my best foot forward in every aspect in this whole process,” Pickett said. “When I saw that 412 number though, I was kind of overwhelmed with emotions and just unbelievable. I can’t wait to go next door.”
Pickett was the only quarterback selected in night one of the 2022 Draft Thursday. The remaining prospects, led by Malik Willis, Matt Corral, and Desmond Ridder, are likely to be selected early in tonight’s second day of the draft.