While new Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback Kenny Pickett is certainly the future franchise signal caller in the Steel City after being the No. 20 overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, the University of Pittsburgh star is already coming in rather humble.
Despite being the big-name addition at the position that the Steelers made in the offseason, along with the signing of Mitch Trubisky, following the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger, Pickett — a Heisman Finalist in 2021 — isn’t coming into his tenure in the black and gold believing he’s going to be the No. 1 quarterback right away.
In fact, while speaking with reporters Tuesday following his latest OTA session with the Steelers at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the South Side, Pickett is looking forward to the competition overall.
“Yeah, I mean, I didn’t think I was gonna walk in and be the one,” Pickett said to reporters after discussing him getting third-team reps Tuesday, according to audio via 93.7 The Fan. “It’s kind of what I was expecting, come in here and just earn everything I get. It’s just kind of how it goes in life in the game. So, I’m excited to be here.”
Though he’s getting third-team reps at the moment, Pickett — make no mistake about it — is locked into a quarterback competition for the starting job with Trubisky and veteran Mason Rudolph, who is entering his fifth season with the Steelers. Head coach Mike Tomlin has made it very clear since the Steelers selected Pickett that he’d be given a fair chance to earn the starting job, and so far that’s played out, regardless of how reps are divided up in OTAs.
With it being a competition with a starting job at the most important position in sports on the line, things could get heated down the stretch, especially in training camp. For now though, the quarterback room appears to be rather cohesive, which is creating a healthy competition overall, according to Pickett.
“We’re all learning, I’m learning, and I’m just kind of attacking each day,” Pickett said regarding the quarterback competition, according to 93.7 The Fan. “I think you guys [the media] make a bigger deal outta the competition than the players do, cuz we’re competing every single day regardless. So, I’m just excited to be a part of this team and compete.”
It’s a fair point that the media is making the competition a bigger deal than it really is internally, because as Pickett points out, the players are competing day in and day out, regardless of it being a public competition or not. That’s professional sports. However, with it being the quarterback position, the attention and overall focus is going to be sky-high throughout the rest of the offseason and into training camp, because the competition could shape the Steelers’ season right away from Week 1.