For 31 other NFL rookies, their flights have been booked, their housing arrangements need figuring out and they now embark on getting accustomed to a brand new city. For Pittsburgh though, their rookie first-round quarterback, Kenny Pickett, is, and has been, right underneath their noses for the past few years. They know him and had more intel on him than any other franchise, which is likely a driving factor, among many, in why he was their top choice. However, in typical Steeler fashion, they held their card close to their chest, and Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi took notice.
“They really were on the backburner,” Narduzzi said in a press conference earlier today. “But they do a great job, I mean they had to have thought of not letting anybody know. I saw Coach Tomlin out on the deck two days ago out on the patio out back and I just said ‘Hey, good luck in the draft’. That was it. I didn’t say ‘Hey, what’s gonna happen with Kenny, what do you think, how do you think it’ll go?’. You know, I didn’t ask any questions and he didn’t ask any questions. So it was just like hush, hush you know, that’s kind of the way the NFL does their business, and I like it.”
Pickett held his introductory press conference moments ago in Pittsburgh, and quickly noted he has been watching film of Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada’s offense, saying it had a familiar feel to it, as it should. Canada was the OC at Pitt when Pickett committed five years ago, before leaving to take the same gig at LSU. Pickett said he’s chomping at the bit to dive into the playbook while at the same time, trying to live in the moment of fulfilling his dream.
“Yeah I’m trying my best but just watching the games, I could tell it’s a lot of the stuff that you know, he’s always done,” Pickett said earlier, via the Pittsburgh Steelers’ YouTube channel. “Getting the quarterback on the move, changing the launch points up, using athleticism, which I feel like I have. So, I feel like I fit the mold that coach is looking for and you know, I’m excited to kind of get in that playbook and see what else he’s adding because I know every year, it’s changing. But I’m excited to learn the new things.”
Being drafted by your hometown team doesn’t require the strolls through the South Side or the Primanti Bros. visits we’ve seen from other draft picks, simply because Pickett has already done all of those things. More than anything, he’s looking forward to putting on his hard hat, immersing himself in the playbook and finally getting a chance to play under Canada’s tutelage.
“Probably just getting to work, I mean I’ve known Coach Canada for a long time, I finally get to play for him,” Pickett said laughing. “So that was the first thing we talked about on the phone, so it’s fulfilling my dream and once this wears off here in a couple hours and I can kind of just soak it in and enjoy it. And then get to the playbook part and learn that and kind of just obsess over being the best I can be”