Mitch Trubisky is still the Pittsburgh Steelers’ likely Week 1 starter. But it seems a question of when, not if, rookie Kenny Pickett will take over. Consider ESPN’s Adam Schefter in that camp, who expressed full confidence Pickett will take the reigns at some point this season. That’s what he said during an appearance on NFL Live Monday.
“When you talk to people now, here’s what you keep hearing,” Schefter said. “That the young guy is coming on. And he’s coming quick. I don’t know when they’re going to get to Kenny Pickett but they’re going to get to Kenny Pickett at some point this season. As soon as Mitchell Trubisky has a stumble during the season, that’ll open the door to Kenny Pickett…”
So far, Pickett has certainly been everything the Steelers had hoped for in their 20th overall selection, making him the first quarterback taken in the draft and the team’s first first-round selection at the position since Ben Roethlisberger in 2004. After a quiet first week of camp, Pickett’s come on strong and shone bright in the team’s two preseason games. He has as many touchdowns as incompletions – three – while leading a game-winning drive in the opener and a two-minute drill for a touchdown at the end of the half in Saturday’s win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Pickett certainly looks NFL-ready. But Pittsburgh framed their quarterback “battle” as Trubisky’s job to lose, and overall, he’s played well and hasn’t done enough to give up the starting spot. A slow start to the season will quickly lead to calls for Pickett to start, and though Pittsburgh may be on the conservative side of things, they’re likely to turn to Pickett at some point.
Schefter expanded on the strong initial returns of the Steelers’ rookie class.
“The rookie class, Kenny Pickett, George Pickens, Calvin Austin….Pittsburgh’s found some young playmakers on the offensive side of the football that look like fixtures for years to come.”
Pickens gained all the initial buzz at the start of camp with his highlight-reel plays routinely made in practice. Austin has flashed his speed though has been most recently tripped up by a foot injury. Pickens figures to play in all 11 personnel groupings, three-receiver sets, while Austin could try to carve out a rotational slot role once he gets health. The Steelers’ youth movement is in full force and under center and at the skill positions, the team has plenty of promise.