It’s only fitting the first quarterback taken in this year’s draft had the #1 performance during the first week of the preseason. CBS’ Jeff Kerr ranked the top performances of this rookie quarterback class, placing Kenny Pickett above everyone else after a great showing last night to beat the Seattle Seahawks. Those who watched Pickett play need little explanation but here’s what Kerr wrote:
“Pickett finished 13 of 15 for 95 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions (132.6 rating) for the Steelers, playing the entire second half behind Mitchell Trubisky and Mason Rudolph. Trubisky is the favorite to start Week 1, but Pickett is playing his way into the conversation.
On the winning drive, Pickett went 2 of 2 for 26 yards and had two carries for 12 yards. Quite impressive for his first game.”
Pickett debuted in and played the entire second half. He led the game-winning drive, a five-play, 43-yard drive including the game-winning touchdown, hitting WR Tyler Vaughns along the right sideline for a 24-yard score with three seconds left. He threw his first touchdown earlier in the game, hitting RB Jaylen Warren in the right flat on a boot. Pickett may not have made any elite-level “wow” plays, but he ran the offense extremely well and played with timing, accuracy, and command, the foundations of quarterback play.
Kerr argues Pickett is working his way into the starting quarterback conversation. While last night’s performance certainly didn’t hurt those odds, Mitch Trubisky remains the heavy favorite, as Kerr himself admits. Trubisky also played well in his Steelers debut, leading a touchdown drive on Pittsburgh’s opening possession, showcasing accuracy and mobility to make plays on the move. All three Steelers’ quarterbacks played well, but if Pickett is trying to move anywhere, it’s to the #2 spot behind Trubisky and ahead of Mason Rudolph. That’s a battle that’ll likely remain ongoing the rest of the summer.
Pickett’s performance paced the field, ranking ahead of Atlanta’s Desmond Ridder, the next quarterback selected this past April, though more than 50 selections after Pickett’s name was called. Like Pickett, Ridder tossed a pair of touchdown passes but his completion percentage sat below 50%. Liberty’s Malik Willis ranked third on the list, dazzling with his arm and legs but also getting pulled from the game for running too often. All the drafted quarterbacks appeared on this list, meaning Steelers’ seventh-round pick Chris Oladokun was listed, bringing up the rear in the #9 spot. Oladokun has not received a single rep in 7v7 or team drills this training camp and did not play in last night’s game. He finished one spot behind Matt Corral, who went just 1/9 in his Panthers’ debut.