When trying to slot in members of the 2022 NFL Draft class at the quarterback position in ideal landing spots based on overall scheme and fit, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better landing spot for Kenny Pickett than the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Having spent the last five years in Pittsburgh as the starting quarterback for the Pitt Panthers, Pickett is quite familiar overall not only with the city itself, but the Steelers’ facility and personnel overall.
As an athletic quarterback overall that throws well on the run and can create out of structure, Pickett fits in rather nicely into second-year offensive coordinator Matt Canada’s system, which needs a quarterback to be able to utilize his legs some, bringing that added dimension to the offense overall.
That was missing in 2021 with an aging Ben Roethlisberger, essentially handicapping Canada’s system, but there are no excuses for 2022 with Pickett and veteran Mitch Trubisky in the fold. With Pickett vying for the starting job overall, NFL Network analyst Bucky Brooks believes that the Steelers’ first-year quarterback will “flourish” in Canada’s system once he’s in the lineup.
“In the wake of Ben Roethlisberger’s retirement, the Steelers needed a modern quarterback with athleticism and arm talent to incorporate some of the college concepts that have taken the NFL by storm. That’s why they initially signed Trubisky in free agency and then drafted Pickett,” Brooks writes. “With offensive coordinator Matt Canada intent on adding some of his favorite wrinkles from his days as a college play-caller (pre-snap motions and shifts, RPOs, jet sweeps), the Pitt product should flourish in a system that is far more imaginative than we’ve seen in Pittsburgh in years.”
The further and further we get from the NFL Draft, the clearer the fit and overall interest in Pickett should have been from an outsider’s perspective. Canada, of course, initially recruited Pickett to Pittsburgh, and his offense hasn’t changed much since he left Pittsburgh in 2016 after a record-breaking year to head to LSU.
Though he was largely considered a mid-round prospect prior to his Heisman Trophy finalist season in 2021, Pickett brings exactly what the Steelers are looking for under head coach Mike Tomlin, bringing much-needed mobility and the ability to create out of structure, as well as impressive accuracy overall while on the move.
That harkens back to the early days of the Ben Roethlisberger era in the mid-2000s. Pickett isn’t Roethlisberger, but there’s some similarities overall. In a run-heavy approach under Canada with second-year running back Najee Harris, Pickett should be able to transition to the program rather quickly, fitting in nicely overall within Canada’s system, which should improve the Steelers’ offensive attack overall.