As teams inch closer to kickoff, as does the rookie report date to training camp, providing a great opportunity to take a close look at their draft picks capabilities with Steelers’ rookies, along with the rest of the team, reporting to training camp Tuesday. Generally, draft picks that are made to address positions of need, as well as those with more years of college experience and raw talent, are best equipped to make an immediate push for a starting job. Alex Kay of Bleacher Report projects five rookies to immediately shine in training camp based on this criteria, one of them being Steelers rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett.
“In a draft class largely lacking quality quarterbacks, Kenny Pickett stood out as one of the few prospects with franchise potential.” Kay wrote for B/R Wednesday. “The Pittsburgh Steelers capitalized on his availability at No. 20 overall.”
Indeed, Pickett was the first and only quarterback taken in the first round, and is the latest taken first quarterback in 25 years. That said, there never appeared to be an inkling of disappointment from the Steelers organization, even admitting at one point that they were surprised at his availability at the 20th slot.
Kay goes on to write:
“Pickett now heads into what may be the most important training camp of his career with a real chance to earn the QB1 job. A familiarity with his surroundings could help Pickett as he works to win this critical battle.”
Throughout the draft process, Pickett was often touted as the most “pro-ready” among the group, as former GM Kevin Colbert cited his familiarity with the pro system as a factor in the teams decision to draft him. This familiarity also comes with the expectation that Pickett gives Trubisky and Rudolph a run for their money in the QB battle, as opposed to a developmental quarterback being expected to sit behind a veteran. The former Pitt quarterback’s years of college experience are also indeed expected to play in his favor, due to both his familiarity with the Steelers’ home stadium and his five years as a college quarterback.
Kay finished by saying.
“While Pickett was buried on the Steelers’ depth chart and mostly practiced with third-stringers during OTAs, his Offensive Rookie of the Year odds suggest an overwhelming belief that he’ll win the starting role. At +600, Pickett is the favorite to take home the hardware.”
While betting odds are far from optimal in projecting a quarterback race, the bet on Pickett is certainly not a bad one. Even in the scenario that Pickett loses the QB battle to Trubisky, he’s likely to take the field regardless due to a Trubisky injury or benching.
When the QB battle is ultimately decided, reports will inevitably swindle on whether the race was close and to what extent Pickett impressed due to his being a first-round pick. While it’s not a necessity for Pickett to win this initial QB battle for him to have a great career, as even the great Big Ben started out on the bench, it certainly wouldn’t hurt as a launching point.