No matter how good he may be perceived to be coming out of college, it’s always going to be difficult to rank a rookie quarterback high among players at his position before he ever takes a snap. Will the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Kenny Pickett, the only quarterback this year drafted in the first two rounds, take his first snap when the Steelers’ offense takes its first?
Chris Simms believes it’s possible, and that he is prepared for it, even though he ultimately ranked Pickett 39th on his ongoing list of the top 40 quarterbacks in the NFL entering the 2022 season. Breaking down the list in increments on the Chris Simms Unbuttoned show, he explained what he sees in the Pittsburgh-to-Pittsburgh quarterback:
Kenny Pickett, I don’t have those same feelings. And I know people are gonna go, ‘Well, he’s in college, how can you say that in the NFL?’, and all of that…Kenny Pickett, that is not the issue, at all. We don’t. Kenny Pickett’s top-end talent, it’s real good. Is it as good as Drew Lock? No, it’s not a strong arm, he’s not as big of a human being as he is, but he is as good an athlete. Pickett’s a good athlete.
And Pickett, as far as the mental aspect, is as impressive as it gets the past few years. Mac Jones and Joe Burrow are the only two guys I can remember in recent history where I went, ‘Oh, in the pocket, making decisions, going through reads, putting the ball in the right spot, it’s as good as anybody we’ve seen coming out there’.
That’s why some teams absolutely loved him coming out of the draft, it’s the high-end talent that I question, but still a starting quarterback here. I wish there were some more big-play ability and a little more aggressiveness, but as far as being ready to play in the NFL, I have no doubt that this guy’s gonna be ready.
He’s gonna be able to run an offense. He’s been running a pro offense, and he’s very well-schooled at playing within the pocket and making decisions and throws that way. That’s why I like him, and that’s why I’m gonna put him in front of Drew Lock.
Still, Simms questioned if Pickett would be more prepared to start now than would Mitch Trubisky, whom the Steelers signed as an unrestricted free agent in March. His list isn’t finished yet, but evidently Trubisky is in the top 30, at least.
He also likened Pickett’s top-end talent to the sorts of quarterbacks that he intends to discuss in the middle of the list of starters, in the 15-16 range, particularly with regards to qualities such as arm strength.
Ultimately he repeatedly fixated on his belief that Pickett is prepared for the NFL level based on what he put on tape in college. “It’s easy to picture it translating to the next level”, he said. But they’re not going to hand him the job. They signed Trubisky for a reason.