Bleacher Report Believes Steelers’ Kenny Pickett Should ‘Immediately Be Named Starter’

If Bleacher Report analyst Brent Sobleski were to have his way with roster decisions for the Pittsburgh Steelers, rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett — the No. 20 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft by the black and gold — would be named the starting quarterback immediately allowing him the opportunity to get as many reps as possible in training camp to prepare him as the intended franchise quarterback in the Steel City.

Of course, that’s not going to happen anytime soon under head coach Mike Tomlin as the Steelers are just over three weeks away from the start of training camp at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, where veteran free agent signee Mitch Trubisky, veteran holdover Mason Rudolph, and Pickett will battle for the starting job in the first real competition at quarterback in 18 seasons following the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger.

Still, Sobleski believes it’s in the best interest of not only the Steelers in 2022, but Pickett’s overall future as well, for him to get as many reps in training camp as possible and hit the field as quickly as possible as the starter, considering he’s 24 years old and was already seemingly NFL-ready coming out of the University of Pittsburgh as a four-year starter in a pro-style system under head coach Pat Narduzzi and former offensive coordinator Mark Whipple.

“The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Kenny Pickett, who turns 24 before the start of the regular season, with the 20th overall pick in this year’s draft. However, they plan to open the campaign with Mitch Trubisky behind center. The idea borders on nonsensical,” Sobleski writes regarding Pickett being the backup. “The Steelers spent all offseason searching for their franchise quarterback. They closely evaluated all of their available options in the draft and settled on Pickett. Internally, the team viewed him as the most pro-ready of the bunch.”

The Steelers certainly spent all offseason evaluating the position, from free agents to draft-eligible prospects at the position. Though they were surprised to see Pickett available at No. 20 overall, the Steelers very clearly got their guy at the position, considering they had the choice of every quarterback in the class at that point.

Still, the Steelers are taking it relatively slow with Pickett throughout the offseason, allowing him to focus on learning the playbook overall under second-year offensive coordinator Matt Canada, while also allowing him to adjust to the rigors of being a professional football player while also learning new faces and new personalities within the facility.

Add in the fact that the Steelers simply aren’t going to hand him the job right out of the gate due to draft status, and it’s clear that the Steelers have a plan in place.

Sobleski believes that plan should be thrown out, and Pickett should be the starting quarterback right now.

“Let’s be done with the farcical, ‘He needs to earn the spot,'” Sobleski writes. “Contracts and draft status often dictate roster decisions. Pickett will be the Steelers’ starting quarterback and should be from the start of training camp to get as many quality reps as possible in preparation for the 2022 campaign.”

While it’s easy to see where Sobleski is coming from, in terms of making the push for Pickett to be the guy right now, that’s just not how the Steelers operate whatsoever. While the game has changed dramatically from the early 2000s to now, the Steelers saw what worked in the development of Roethlisberger, and they’re planning on bringing Pickett along rather slowly as well, just like they did with Big Ben.

Of course, Roethlisberger was forced into the lineup due to multiple injuries ahead of him before embarking on a legendary run, but that wasn’t the plan. It won’t be the plan with Pickett either, for now.

Plus, if contracts and draft capital affects roster decisions like Sobleski believes, then why wouldn’t Trubisky and his $3.660 million cap hit get a crack at the starting job, especially after the Steelers moved swiftly to sign him on the first day of the legal tampering period, or Mason Rudolph and his $4.040 million cap hit for that matter?

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