Kenny Pickett will likely become the starting QB for the Pittsburgh Steelers at some point in his NFL career, but as we sit here today, he currently stands to backup Mitch Trubisky on the depth chart. There is a chance we may see Pickett thrust into game action at some point during the 2022 season which many are expecting to be the case. However, should Trubisky perform well, a redshirt season for Pickett isn’t’ out of the question.
NFL Trade Rumors has taken the same stance with Pickett being the backup QB in Pittsburgh, at least initially in 2022, and ranked him #7 overall in their most recent definitive backup quarterback power rankings.
“It’s a little challenging to rank Pickett as he enters the NFL as an unproven rookie,” Logan Ulrich said in the piece regarding Pickett and his ranking. “He does have pedigree of being a first-round pick, and that elevates him over a number of other options here. He was solid in the preseason even though he wasn’t asked to do much, completing 29-36 passes for 261 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions.”
NFLTR ranked 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo as the #1 backup on the list followed by Teddy Bridgewater, Nick Foles, Andy Dalton, Tyrod Taylor, and Joe Flacco before listing Pickett. Garoppolo and Foles deserve that ranking, having carried the 49ers and Eagles, respectively to the Super in the past with Foles winning a Lombardi in Philadelphia. Bridgewater has been a serviceable spot starter and effective backup during his time in the league, making him a proven option with a high floor with low ceiling.
After those three, I would say an argument could be made for Pickett over the likes of Dalton, Taylor, and Flacco. Dalton and Flacco both used to start for Pittsburgh’s division rivals in the AFC North, leading the Bengals and Ravens to the playoffs with Flacco winning the Super Bowl with Baltimore nearly a decade ago. However, both have dropped off considerably in their last few years in the league, seemingly holding onto backup jobs until they decide to call it a career.
Pickett on the other hand looks to be on the rise, pushing Trubisky for the starting job in Pittsburgh. While he does need to show more in terms of pushing the football down the field, Pickett had a far better preseason than Ulrich indicates, posting the best passer rating of any rookie QB in preseason play since 2015 while completing over 80% of his passes.
Pickett may not have substantial athletic upside or phenomenal arm talent, but he has shown this preseason that he is poised in the pocket and can make the right decision when the clock is ticking. He may have to wait to get his first start in the NFL, but Pickett should look to leave the designation of backup sooner rather than later should his development continue.