Former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback and current Pro Football Focus analyst Bruce Gradkowski went on the Rich Eisen Show on Saturday, and in a conversation with guest host Ryan Leaf said he thought the Kenny Pickett selection was “perfect” for the Steelers.
“It’s typical Steeler fashion,” Gradkowski said. “They just sit patient, they never panic, and they let the draft just come to them and Kenny Pickett ends up falling right to them. We heard Tomlin a week or so ago talk about one of the top characteristics of a quarterback is being an ultimate competitor. And that to me is what Kenny Pickett is. He’s a football player, he’s a winner, it doesn’t always have to be pretty but I think he finds a way and Pittsburgh’s used to having a guy behind center like that in Big Ben. I think this is a perfect pick for Pickett and the Steelers.”
Leaf responded by talking about how he loved the pick and praised Pickett’s size at 6’3” and 220 lbs. He likened the draft pick to the Chargers making a draft day trade for Phillip Rivers while they still had Drew Brees on the roster, as Rivers sat behind Brees for a year before taking over. Leaf believes it would be the best case scenario for Pickett to sit behind Mitch Trubisky before taking over as a full-time starter in the 2023 season. Although Mike Tomlin did say that Pickett has a chance to start Week 1, it seems likely that Trubisky would get the nod. However, if Pickett really impresses in training camp and the preseason, it wouldn’t be totally shocking if he’s starting the first game of the year.
Gradkowski further went on to talk about the “awesome culture” of the Steelers, from the top to the bottom of the organization. Gradkowski only spent one year in Pittsburgh, but from his comments, it’s clear he’s a big fan of Tomlin and the organization in general.
As for Pickett, Gradkowski mentioned how he has a tendency to hold onto the ball too long, but said Tomlin’s used to it because it’s something that Ben Roethlisberger used to do as well. Both Pickett and Roethlisberger are somewhat similar in that sense, as Pickett has a similar ability as Roethlisberger did to evade pass rushers. Pickett also has more speed than Roethlisberger, as while he’s not crazy athletic, he did scramble for over 200 yards last season and has 20 career rushing touchdowns, which is most all-time for a Pitt quarterback.
There’s been a lot of opinions on the Pickett selection, so it’s definitely interesting to hear two former NFL quarterbacks praise not only the pick itself, but also how Pickett fits in the Steelers organization.