In the immediate aftermath of the 2022 NFL Draft, it’s a bit unfair to have substantial takes on players selected and overall classes, but that’s exactly what happens each and every year as the media landscape feeds into the frenzy that is the NFL fanbase.
Depending on who you read or where you turn for your NFL coverage from a team or league standpoint, you’ll have varying opinions on players selected and classes overall. So that’s why it shouldn’t be that surprising that Bleacher Report’s Ian Wharton called new Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback Kenny Pickett the biggest mistake in the first round of the NFL Draft Monday.
With other quarterbacks not coming off the board until the third round, Wharton believes that the Steelers not only reached on the position overall, but grabbed a guy in Pickett that might not elevate the Steelers overall, especially in a loaded AFC quarterback class overall.
“Kenny Pickett was the only first-round quarterback selected, and the next passer wasn’t taken until 54 picks later when Desmond Ridder went to the Atlanta Falcons. The Pittsburgh Steelers not only overestimated the quarterback market, but they also selected the riskiest prospect among the top passers,” Wharton writes. “Pickett’s pathway to success in the loaded AFC is more difficult than that of his peers in this class.
“Desmond Ridder was a more consistent producer throughout his career and boasts a better arm than Pickett. Malik Willis has one of the strongest arms in the NFL and elite rushing ability, at least providing a chance he could go toe-to-toe with the likes of Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen and Deshaun Watson. Pickett has his strengths on roll-outs and short passes, but he’s all too similar to new teammate Mitchell Trubisky.
“If Pickett is indeed limited to an average ceiling, the Steelers will be stuck in mediocrity as they look to replace him in a few years. Pittsburgh can’t afford wasted time with a passer who doesn’t directly lead a team to wins,” Wharton added. “The high quality of this team’s coaching staff, defense and receiving corps made this a premium landing spot for a star quarterback.”
Pickett certainly has his question marks, specifically surrounding his ceiling overall, but to call it the biggest mistake in the first round is a rather large reach overall.
The Pittsburgh star was clearly QB1 on the Steelers’ draft board, leading to his selection at No. 20 overall where the Steelers had their pick of all the quarterbacks in the draft class.
While he might not be a guy that puts himself in the conversation with the likes of Joe Burrow, Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, and Justin Herbert, Pickett can at the very least be serviceable in this clear competitive window for the Steelers with a high-level defense and key playmakers offensively, which could be a factor as to why the Steelers pulled the trigger on him at No. 20 overall.
Calling him the draft’s biggest mistake in the first round though is a major reach, especially when New England Patriots’ selection of Cole Strange out of Chattanooga at No. 29 overall is in the same draft class. Of course, none of this matters until the players actually take the field for meaningful snaps.