2022 Offseason Questions: Will Kenny Pickett Be Opening-Day Starter?

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 season is over, already eliminated from the postseason after suffering a 42-21 loss at the hands of Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. They just barely made the postseason with a 9-7-1 record and a little help from their friends.

This is an offseason of major change, with the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger, the possible retirement of general manager Kevin Colbert, and the decisions about the futures of many important players to be made, such as Joe Haden, Stephon Tuitt, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and others—some already decided, some not.

Aside from exploring their options at the quarterback position, the top global priority, once again, figures to be addressing the offensive line, which they did not do quite adequately enough a year ago. Dan Moore Jr. looks like he may have a future as a full-time starter, but Kendrick Green was clearly not ready. Chukwuma Okorafor was re-signed, but Trai Turner was not. James Daniels and Mason Cole were added in free agency.

These are the sorts of topics among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked. There is rarely a concrete answer, but this is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all their uncertainty.

Question: Will Kenny Pickett be the starter on opening day?

Is there a bigger question right now? The Steelers drafted a quarterback to be their next franchise quarterback. So, when is he going to start leading the franchise? Kenny Pickett was pretty much universally regarded as the most pro-ready quarterback in this class, so it’s not unreasonable to wonder if he can beat out Mitch Trubisky and Mason Rudolph for a starting job, both of whom were backups last year.

Of course, head coach Mike Tomlin has already said that Pickett “certainly has a chance” to compete for the starting job on opening day. And it wouldn’t be a shock if that came to pass. But it’s far from a guarantee, either. We’re not even at rookie minicamp yet, after all. That’s still quite a long way to go.

Rookie quarterbacks starting on opening day have become common in this era. Trevor Lawrence started every game last year. Zach Wilson started on opening day as well. Mac Jones, too. Joe Burrow the year before that (Justin Herbert was starting by Week 2).

If Bill Belichick was willing to start Mac Jones, why shouldn’t the Steelers be willing to start Pickett? Right now, nobody has the job. Nobody is the incumbent. Nobody started a game last year except due to COVID-19. Pickett has as good a shot as Trubisky and Rudolph.

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