With two first round picks, the New Orleans Saints had the chance to draft QB Kenny Pickett in this year’s draft. They opted against it but head coach Dennis Allen revealed Pickett was the team’s #1 quarterback in this year’s draft.
On a conference call with reporters Tuesday, Allen said Pickett topped all other names at the position.
“We thought he was a good quarterback,” Allen said via the Saints’ team website. “Smart, instinctive, good athlete. Throws the ball with rhythm and timing. We felt like he was probably the top-rated quarterback in last year’s draft. You certainly see some of those characteristics on tape now.”
Instead of Pickett, the Saints used their picks on WR Chris Olave and OT Trevor Penning. Olave has produced immediate returns as their leading receiver while Penning tore a ligament in his foot and was placed on IR before the season. Instead of selecting a rookie, the team turned to veterans Jameis Winston and Andy Dalton. Winston began the season as the team’s starter but was injured and Dalton has usurped him. Dalton is expected to be the team’s starter for their Week 10 game against the Steelers.
The 2022 NFL Draft Draft was an especially unusual one for quarterbacks. Pickett was the first one off the board at #20 as opposed to most drafts that see one or more quarterbacks selected in the top five. In fact, Pickett was the only quarterback to be drafted in the top 70 picks with the next arm not off the board until the Atlanta Falcons selected Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder at #74.
Pittsburgh made their interest in the position clear and looked at every top option in this year’s draft. But they settled on the local Pickett, the name they knew the most and the one they were most comfortable with. Pickett will make his fifth NFL start this weekend versus the Saints as he tries to climb Pittsburgh out of a 2-6 hole. As Allen noted, Pickett has flashed some of those traits that made him the Steelers’ top pick. Overall, he’s been accurate, served as a leader, and the moment hasn’t been too big for him.
Still, the production hasn’t been there with two touchdowns and eight interceptions as the Steelers’ offense has been brutally bad, 31st in football in points per game and yet to score more than 20 in a game on their side of the ball. But they’ll look to get back on track versus a potentially banged up Saints’ defense with the benefit of a bye week at their backs. If there’s a recipe for the Steelers to win, it’ll be this weekend.