Omar Khan Looking To See Growth From Kenny Pickett During Training Camp

When the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Kenny Pickett 20th overall in the 2022 NFL Draft, they did so with the idea that he’d be their quarterback of the future. General Manager Omar Khan was asked during his press conference today what he would consider to be a successful training camp for the rookie quarterback.

“I would say the growth. He’s a young quarterback, there’s a lot being thrown at him. And I would just say from his standpoint to be able to say on the last, the day he leaves camp, that he’s in a lot better position than was day one. I think that’s important for him, but I have all the confidence that he’ll get there.”

Pickett’s mostly been taking third-team reps so far in training camp, although he moved up to second team yesterday. However, that’s more procedural to see him get looks with different receivers and not really an indication that he’s surpassed Mason Rudolph on the depth chart. I would be surprised if Pickett starts this year, outside of maybe a Week 17 or Week 18 game if Pittsburgh is already out of playoff contention.

Way back in 2004 when the Steelers drafted Ben Roethlisberger, he was third on the depth chart behind Charlie Batch and Tommy Maddox. Injuries to the two of them vaulted Roethlisberger to No. 1, but the expectation wasn’t for him to ascend as quickly as he did. It’s not an indictment on Pickett, and it doesn’t mean he’s a bust if he doesn’t play this season.

That’s why his growth is important. This camp isn’t about getting him ready to start during Week 1 this year, it’s about getting him ready for Week 1 in 2023. Going through camp, building chemistry and learning the playbook to prepare to become the Steelers’ starter in 2023 and beyond is what’s important for Pickett and what the Steelers need him to do this year.

Even when the regular season begins, seeing how Mitch Trubisky and Rudolph (who both have starting experience) prepare will be important for Pickett. Sitting behind those two will probably be better for his development than if he was immediately thrown into the fire as the Week 1 starter. Developing a quarterback isn’t usually a process that happens quickly. Giving Pickett a full year to watch two guys who have started before will benefit his long-term development immensely.

Ultimately, if you were expecting Pickett to start in 2022 after the Steelers picked him, you might be disappointed. When it comes to developing a long-term starter, it’s a marathon and not a sprint, and Pittsburgh clearly believes taking it slow with Pickett will be better for his long-term development.

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