Whenever a team drafts a quarterback in the first round, it goes without saying that the intention is for him to be the future of the franchise. You simply don’t draft a quarterback—or really just about any position—in the first round without having a pretty clear idea in mind about that player being very important, likely for a long period of time. But it’s especially the case for the quarterback position.
Being the future and being the present, however, are separate conversations. The Pittsburgh Steelers were the only team this draft to use a first-round pick on a quarterback, that being Kenny Pickett, but not before signing Mitch Trubisky in free agency. And former Steelers left tackle Max Starks is not buying the idea of Pittsburgh drafting Pickett being their best move of the offseason—at least for 2022—as suggested by CBS Sports.
“You already brought in Mitch Trubisky before Kenny Pickett, so I look at that and I say, you know, Kenny Pickett was one that’s a luxury that will be a future plan”, he said during a recent appearance on Movin’ the Chains on SiriusXM Radio with Lance Medow. “I don’t think that’s for this year. I don’t think it’s as immediate as people want to think what his impact could be”.
The Pitt alum spent the spring working as the Steelers’ number three quarterback behind Trubisky and Mason Rudolph, the only returning quarterback from last season’s roster. He will be given an opportunity to compete for the starting job during training camp, but the prevailing belief all along has been that this is Trubisky’s job to lose.
A former second-overall draft pick, Trubisky does have a winning record as a starter during his time with the Chicago Bears, but he spent the 2021 season serving as a backup with the Buffalo Bills, even if it was to Josh Allen, one of the best in the game.
Because he believes that the Pickett selection was more about the future, Starks believes that the title of the best offseason move by Pittsburgh this year has to favor the defense. “It’s between Myles Jack, who is established, we know, or the unknown commodity, which is DeMarvin Leal to add to that defensive line rotation, because that was decimated last year with injuries, early and often”, he said.
Leal has an uphill battle in terms of contributing, even with Stephon Tuitt retiring, as Chris Wormley will move into the starting lineup, but he can compete with Isaiahh Loudermilk for a gameday helmet. It might take him weeks into the season before he makes that much of a competition.
Another key addition on defense this offseason was the signing of cornerback Levi Wallace, as well as the retention of Ahkello Witherspoon, the two of whom will likely play the majority of the snaps on the outside for the Steelers this year. They also retained Terrell Edmunds at safety while adding Damontae Kazee, who can also play in the slot.