With mandatory minicamp in the rearview mirror and six weeks of downtime ahead, all eyes will remain locked on the upcoming quarterback competition in Latrobe during training camp for the Pittsburgh Steelers between the likes of Mason Rudolph, Mitch Trubisky and rookie Kenny Pickett.
While Rudolph will certainly get a shot at winning the job, it will ultimately come down to Trubisky — signed in free agency — and Pickett — drafted in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Questions remain regarding the offensive line, running back depth, a rebuilt receiver room, depth behind TJ Watt and Alex Highsmith, a rebuilt secondary and replacing Stephon Tuitt for the Steelers, to name a few, but all the national attention regarding the Steelers is the quarterback competition, which will be the first one in nearly 20 years for the Steelers, dating back to Tommy Maddox and Kordell Stewart throughout the 2002 season.
According to NFL.com columnist Jeffri Chadiha, Trubisky and Pickett are two of the most intriguing players to come out of mandatory minicamp across the NFL landscape with all eyes gazing upon the quarterback battle in the Steel City in the post-Ben Roethlisberger era.
“This should be the most interesting quarterback competition of the summer. The Steelers watched Ben Roethlisberger walk away into retirement without having any true successor in-house at the time. Since then, they signed Trubisky in free agency and selected Pickett 20th overall in this year’s draft,” Chadiha writes. “How this plays out before the regular season surely depends on how quickly Pickett can learn. For all the criticism of Trubisky at the end of his tenure in Chicago, the player drafted second overall in 2017 still has talent and experience working in his favor. He also spent the past season sitting behind Josh Allen in Buffalo and learning from Brian Daboll, the former Bills offensive coordinator who now works as head coach of the New York Giants. The 27-year-old is the safe choice here.
“Pickett, 24, is the future of the franchise, the local guy who starred at Pitt and spent his entire career practicing in the same building where the Steelers work daily,” Chadiha added. “They know him better than any other player they could’ve drafted at the position. The best-case scenario here is that Trubisky is consistent enough to be an effective starter, while Pickett can learn without being thrown into the fire too soon. That sounds good in theory. We’ll see how it actually plays out.”
Chadiha nails the ideal scenario for the Steelers overall. Though Trubisky is essentially on a one-year deal with an easy out for the Steelers in 2023, having him play for much of the season — and play well to boot — would be perfect for the Steelers overall. There’s no denying that Pickett is the future in Pittsburgh, but with a rebuilt offensive line and an offensive scheme in the second year of Matt Canada that needs to have some kinks worked out early after being relatively handicapped by Ben Roethlisberger last season, it wouldn’t be ideal to throw Pickett to the wolves right away.
Trubisky, much like Pickett, fits in very well with Canada’s scheme from a traits and skillset standpoint, so the Steelers really can’t go wrong with either one under center to open the 2022 season. It’s Trubisky’s job to lose though, and make no mistake: he could lose it to Pickett with a strong training camp from the rookie.
Even if Trubisky holds off the Pittsburgh product, Pickett will undoubtedly see the field in 2022, which would hopefully be later rather than soon if Trubisky does what he’s expected to do and plays well for the black and gold.
It’s a fun training camp coming up, one that the Steelers will not have experienced in this magnitude from the quarterback position in a long, long time. All eyes will be on the signal callers in the dog days of summer.