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CBS Sports Ranks Kenny Pickett Near Bottom Half Of AFC In QB Rankings

No matter who the Pittsburgh Steelers and head coach Mike Tomlin choose as the starting quarterback for the black and gold entering Week 1 of the 2022 regular season on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Steelers’ starting quarterback will rank near the bottom half of the of the AFC overall.

CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin took a crack at ranking the quarterbacks in the AFC from No. 1 to No. 16. Instead of going with Mitch Trubisky as the Steelers’ starting quarterback in 2022, Benjamin went with Pickett, who will most likely be the starting quarterback at some point in 2022 as the Steelers officially transition to the Kenny Pickett Era.

With Pickett as his selection of the Steelers’ QB, Benjamin placed the former Pittsburgh star and No. 20 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft at No. 14 overall in the top 16 AFC QB rankings, just ahead of New York Jets second-year QB Zach Wilson and Houston Texans second-year QB Davis Mills.

“It might be a stretch to put Pickett here considering Mitchell Trubisky may well open 2022 as the starter, but the Steelers couldn’t have found a more natural successor to Ben Roethlisberger, drafting the guy who literally knows the facilities from his time at Pittsburgh,” Benjamin writes regarding his placement of Pickett. “Growing pains are inevitable, and Pickett’s skillset perhaps projects more steadiness than superstardom. But he’s better positioned to find immediate results than some of his young counterparts, considering the Steelers’ improved line, endlessly developing receiving corps, old-school building blocks (i.e. Najee Harris, Pat Freiermuth) and proven staff.”

Pickett certainly steps into an ideal situation with the playmakers around him in Najee Harris, Pat Freiermuth, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and more, along with a stable coaching staff led by head coach Mike Tomlin. Benjamin’s ranking of Pickett feels accurate overall, though it’s a bit startling to see a Steelers’ QB ranked No. 14 overall in the AFC.

While Pickett ranks behind Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa and Jacksonville’s Trevor Lawrence, it’s the correct move overall, as Tagovailoa is poised for a big season overall after the offseason additions the Dolphins made, while Lawrence appears to finally have some stability in Duval with the addition of Doug Pederson as head coach.

Realistically, if Benjamin would have went with Trubisky over Pickett, the veteran quarterback would have likely slotted in at roughly the same position in the AFC. Though it’s a bit startling to see them that low, that’s not an indictment overall on the level of talent, at least in my opinion.

If the Steelers’ quarterback — whether that’s Trubisky or Pickett — can just be serviceable overall, the Steelers will be just fine offensively, especially as they lean heavily on the run game with Harris behind a rebuilt offensive line featuring free agent signees James Daniels and Mason Cole.

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