Despite being drafted by the team that was literally right next door throughout his five seasons at the University of Pittsburgh as its starting quarterback, Bleacher Report’s Gary Davenport incredulously believes that new Pittsburgh Steelers’ starting quarterback Kenny Pickett was drafted by the wrong team in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Pickett, of course, came off the board at No. 20 overall as the top quarterback on the Steelers’ board, meaning he joins a quarterback room featuring veteran free agent signee Mitch Trubisky and fifth-year Steelers’ backup quarterback Mason Rudolph.
After five seasons in the Steel City as the star of the Panthers’ resurgence under head coach Pat Narduzzi, Pickett’s transition from the blue and gold to the black and gold should be a relatively seamless one, many believe. Many that is, except Davenport.
"We just had a bird's-eye view of his growth and development, not only has a player but as a person, as a leader."
— Rich Eisen Show (@RichEisenShow) May 4, 2022
Pickett was one of eight players Davenport highlighted that he believes was drafted by the “wrong team,” which includes New England’s Cole Strange and Tyquan Thornton, Cincinnati’s Daxton Hill, Jacksonville’s Chad Muma, Atlanta’s DeAngelo Malone, New York’s Wan’Dale Robinson, and Cleveland’s Jerome Ford.
“For many fans and analysts, the selection of University of Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett by the Pittsburgh Steelers at No. 20 overall was a dream come true, with the kid who starred for the Panthers picking up the torch from Ben Roethlisberger. Here’s hoping that dream doesn’t become a nightmare,” Davenport writes. “In fairness, Pickett is a talented young passer. The 23-year-old completed 67.2 percent of his passes last year for over 4,300 yards and 42 scores with just seven interceptions.
“Pickett will be under the most pressure to start. He was the only quarterback selected in the first round. If Mitchell Trubisky struggles in camp, the calls for Pickett will come. If the Steelers start losing games, those calls will get that much louder,” Davenport added.
“And while many are probably tired of hearing about it, Pickett has exceptionally small hands by NFL standards at just 8½ inches. When he takes the field, he’ll have the smallest hands of any starting quarterback in the league. The last we checked, Heinz Field doesn’t have a roof. And Pickett fumbled 26 times over his collegiate career. When the weather gets bad, his grip could be an issue.”
— Steelers Depot 7⃣ (@Steelersdepot) May 5, 2022
The hand size concerns are valid with Pickett, at least at face value. His hand size will be the smallest in the NFL once he ascends into the starting role for the Steelers. But wondering if he can handle the elements in Pittsburgh is actually genuinely hilarious from Davenport, who cites that Heinz Field doesn’t have a roof over it. Did Davenport forget that the Panthers play at Heinz Field, and Pickett has experienced every type of condition within that stadium as the Panthers’ starter?
That’s about as bad a miss as one writer can get.
Aside from the hand size concerns, knocking Pickett for not being the top quarterback on Bleacher Report’s board and using that as some sort of indictment on where he landed is quite interesting, and is another massive miss from Davenport overall.
Realistically, the selection of Pickett by the Steelers actually makes more and more sense the further we are removed from last week’s first round. Pickett played in a pro-style offense under longtime coach Mark Whipple at Pitt, who also happened to be the first QB coach for one Ben Roethlisberger when he entered the NFL in 2004. That system is also quite comparable to the one that Steelers’ second-year offensive coordinator Matt Canada utilizes, so it shouldn’t be that much of a transition.
Add in the fact that he doesn’t have to adjust to a new city overall, that will be huge in his transition from a college athlete to a professional one. One can truly argue that Pickett landed in the best possible spot for himself and his future NFL prospects overall, rather than being drafted by the wrong team.