The Steelers are now in their offseason after failing to reach the playoffs in 2022, coming up just a game short of sneaking in as the seventh seed. They needed help in week 18 and only got some of it, so instead, they sat home and watched the playoffs with the rest of us.
On tap is figuring out how to be on the field in January and February instead of being a spectator. They started out 2-6, digging a hole that proved too deep to dig out of even if they managed to go 7-2 in the second half of the year.
Starting from the end of the regular season and leading all the way up to the beginning of the 2023 season, there are plenty of questions that need answering, starting with who will be the offensive coordinator. Which free agents will be kept? Who might be let go due to their salary? How might they tackle free agency with this new front office? We’ll try to frame the conversation in relevant ways as long as you stick with us throughout this offseason, as we have for many years.
Question: Where would Kenny Pickett rank in comparison to this year’s quarterback draft class?
Kenny Pickett being taken 20th overall in 2022 marked the latest that the first quarterback had been selected in a draft class in decades. Frankly, I can’t even remember how late it was, but it wasn’t in his millennium. Chad Pennington was taken 18th overall in 2000. And Pickett was the only quarterback drafted within the first two rounds last year.
But this is a new year with a new class of quarterbacks. The Steelers are obviously extremely unlikely to draft one again. But for those on the outside, it’s at least worth considering: how would Pickett, coming out of college now, compare to this draft class? In this scenario, assume that he is coming off his final season at Pitt and the past year didn’t exist.
Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud appear to be regarded with relative universality as the top two quarterbacks in this class, with Anthony Richardson of Florida a rising prospect. Will Levis and Hendon Hooker tend to round out almost everybody’s top-five list.
Of those quarterbacks, where would Pickett rank? I would imagine no worse than third in most people’s opinion, or perhaps fourth in rare instances. How many would rank him above one or both of Young or Stroud?
Obviously posing this question to a bunch of Steelers fans is a role of the dice because they’re going to come at it with bias in either direction depending on what they made of the pick in the first place or of his rookie season.
But consider this as a year ago, before the Steelers drafted Pickett. Pickett the Pitt prospect, who just completed his final collegiate season. Would he be the first quarterback taken this year? Second? Third? Fourth?