The quarterback position is arguably the most glamorous one in all the major sports leagues. Often the face of their respective franchises, games are won and lost by the play of each signal caller, and for good reason. They’re in command of an entire offense, knowing the responsibilities of each and every member of their unit. Think back to the countless times Tom Brady has been seen on sidelines going absolutely ballistic at his offensive linemen for missing their blocks and getting him hit. He knew what their blocking assignments were and that they indeed didn’t execute. Which correlates directly to the next point in this piece which is hits on QB’s and what happens when a starter goes down?
Across the NFL landscape, there are only a handful of TRUE franchise QB’s that exist, and the Steelers hope they found their next franchise signal caller to replace their old one, future Hall of Famer Ben Roethlisberger, who retired after 18 seasons in January. The front office, citing a desire of more mobility at the position, went out in free agency and signed Mitch Trubisky, the #2 overall pick of the Bears in the 2017 draft. Also in this year’s draft, the team invested their top pick in Kenny Pickett, the hometown Pitt product and Heisman Trophy finalist who last season threw for 4,319 yards, 42 touchdowns and only seven picks while leading the Panthers to an ACC Title.
Trubisky is viewed by many as the leader in the clubhouse to start the season, as he ran with the first unit throughout OTA’s and is expected to during the start of training camp. However, anything could happen there and in preseason games, as the competition between he and Pickett is widely considered one of the top storylines of the summer. For now though, Pickett hasn’t even been the direct backup, he’s been running with the third-team, which isn’t all that uncommon for a rookie QB.
However, nobody is expecting incumbent Mason Rudolph to beat him out for the backup spot, and we can safely count Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports among those believers based by comments he made earlier today. Benjamin’s article listed the top backups in football, broken down into groups of “youngsters,” like Pickett, and “veterans.” Pickett was ranked the second best youngster backup, only trailing Baltimore’s Tyler Huntley, who saw plenty of action replacing Lamar Jackson last year.
Here’s what Benjamin wrote on Pickett.
“He’s widely considered more of a safe than special prospect, but the guy did a lot of the little things well in and around the pocket at Pittsburgh, and he may well start for a playoff-caliber Steelers team as a rookie.”
As mentioned earlier, the front office desired mobility from their next signal caller after Big Ben, and both Trubisky and Pickett fit the bill with 40 times of 4.67 and 4.73, respectively. While Trubisky appears poised to leave his Chicago days behind him after learning under the tutelage of MVP candidate Josh Allen and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll in Buffalo last season, Pickett is hailed by many as the most pro-ready QB in this year’s draft crop. Make no mistake, if Trubisky doesn’t shine throughout the preseason and the Steelers stumble out of the gate, Pickett will not be a backup for very long.