For an NFL franchise, trying to find a true franchise quarterback is one of the most difficult tasks to achieve. The Green Bay Packers seem to recently be the exception to this, as they’ve seamlessly transitioned from the great Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers, going from one first-ballot Hall Of Famer to one who will someday be a certainty. The Steelers were in the unenviable task of doing this entering this past offseason, as future Hall Of Famer Ben Roethlisberger retired as the greatest QB in team history. Prior to his arrival in the 2004 draft, the team lacked at the position ever since the day Terry Bradshaw retired. Over two decades of mediocrity at the position was what fans became accustomed to.
In the first several hours of free agency, the front office wasted no time addressing the position, when they signed the former #2 overall pick in the 2017, Mitch Trubisky. Presumably, he would be the starter, be it as a stopgap or the frontrunning favorite. With the contract he was given seeming to point to the former, the team again made waves last Thursday evening at the draft, when they grabbed Heisman finalist and hometown favorite, Kenny Pickett. Earlier this afternoon, outgoing GM Kevin Colbert sat down with 93.7 The Fan to address their logic regarding filling out their QB room, and also if Trubisky signed here, knowing full well the team would still address the position via the draft.
“Yeah, everybody was aware, of course, what coach and I were doing throughout the spring,” Colbert said on The Cook & Joe Show via 93.7 The Fan. “And we had interacted with Mitch, with Mason, and they understood what we were doing and why we were doing it. In Mitch Trubisky, we have a young starting quarterback, with playoff experience. In Mason Rudolph, we have someone that’s familiar with the system, that has started and has won games for us. So when you add Kenny into the mix, we’ve got three young quarterbacks that are gonna provide great competition and they all understand it, accept it. You know, I can’t say they’re not upset because I’m sure they’re gonna hide their emotions and try to play their emotions out on the field. But we’re excited. When you’re trying to replace, a Hall Of Fame quarterback like Ben, you better have more than one option. And I think we do, with these three guys that we got.”
In Pickett, the team was ecstatic when the most pro-ready QB in the draft fell into their lap, and they wasted no time heading to the podium. The 6-foot-3, 220-pounder is fresh off his senior season at Pitt, where he threw for 4,319 yards and 42 touchdowns against only seven interceptions. His availability was somewhat a shock, as there were several QB-needy teams in front of Pittsburgh’s pick. And Colbert agrees.
“Yeah, Kenny was actually, as I stated, a surprise availability that Kenny was available for us. Throughout this whole process, and I said, and coach agrees, there were some great young men, and young quarterbacks. We think there’s gonna be, out of that group that we scouted this year, there’ll be several that will emerge as starters and maybe some really special players. And of course, Kenny was, throughout this process. We put each one of them through the exact same process, so as to not prejudice in anybody’s favor, but Kenny stood out as he was going to be the top quarterback. And again, under no circumstance, did we ever think it would be possible for him to make it to us.”
Of course, Colbert wasn’t done rounding out the QB room, as they added South Dakota State’s Chris Oladokun, who compares favorably to the Ravens’ backup Tyler Huntley, in the seventh round. He likely will be used on the practice squad, especially when facing the mobile QB’s in the division, as Oladokun possesses 4.6 speed. All in all, Colbert fortified the position for hopefully the next decade or more, in his final draft as GM. And he couldn’t be more excited for the future.
“And then of course, we throw in another quarterback with Chris Oladokun in the seventh round. Just to have four young quarterbacks that are going to compete for starting positions, depth positions and roster spots, I think it’s exciting.”