Entering the NFL as a rookie quarterback is no easy task, let alone taking the reins and leading a starting offense in a stacked AFC conference. However, head coach Mike Tomlin is not ruling out that possibility for their prized rookie passer, Kenny Pickett, who was taken 20th overall in the first round Thursday evening. Hailed as the most pro-ready QB in this year’s class, Pickett may not need to begin the season under center; after all, they just signed Mitch Trubisky in free agency, so there’s no need to rush the rookie. It certainly doesn’t sound like Tomlin is shutting the door on the possibility, though, based on comments made earlier.
“Yeah, he certainly has a chance,” Tomlin said via an NFL Network transcript moments ago. “And I agree with that sentiment, that of his readiness from a professional perspective, it was two things that really attracted us to him from a floor standpoint. We thought he had pro level anticipation. We thought he had pro level accuracy, and that oftentimes those are two variables that really require a lot of an adjustment from a quarterbacking standpoint. We felt he came ready-made in those ways, and hopefully that’s an asset to him in terms of being able to compete and being ready, if performance dictates it.”
Tomlin gushed about the rookie, and revealed something that we all basically already knew, which was how comfortable they felt with him, based on the proximity.
“You know, it’s a lot of reasons why. We were really attracted to the tangible things, the things that everyone’s aware of. The stellar season he had leading his team to an ACC championship, being a Heisman finalist, rewriting the Pitt record books, being considered along the likes of Dan Marino. We saw all of that, but we also saw his process, the maturation as a football player, his growth and maturation as a leader. We saw his day-to-day, just the things from a proximity standpoint. Oftentimes where you’re speculating through this evaluation process, we weren’t speculating at all. And we felt really comfortable because of that intimate knowledge we have of the young man beyond the things that all of us know.”
One thing Tomlin did humorously rule out of Pickett, be it as a starter or not, is the infamous “fake slide” he pulled on Wake Forest during his team’s win in the ACC Championship game this past January.
“You know, unfortunately, I think his reputation is gonna proceed him in that regard. In Sunday ball, he better get on the ground.”