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Steelers Picking Kenny Pickett’s Brain ‘A Little Bit’ On Former Pitt Teammates In 2023 Draft

The Pittsburgh Panthers may not consistently field the hottest team in their conference, but they still manage to churn out NFL-worthy talent with some regularity. The Steelers picked up one just last year in quarterback Kenny Pickett, whom they drafted with their first-round selection.

And he wouldn’t mind having a former teammate in the building. According to Steelers general manager Omar Khan, Pickett occasionally offers his input regarding Pitt players who are currently coming out of college. “I’m not gonna tell you we haven’t picked his brain a little bit”, he said at the podium during the NFL Scouting Combine earlier this week.

The Panthers have six players present at the Combine this year, most notably defensive lineman Calijah Kancey, who probably dispelled any doubts about his first-round status yesterday with a blazing time in the 40-yard dash. He even beat Pitt legend Aaron Donald’s Combine record for defensive tackles at 4.67 seconds.

Kancey has been a bit all over the draft boards during the process, ranging from the top 10 to the middle of the second round, so yesterday’s results won’t hurt. Could the Steelers consider him? Would they feel that he fits what they want to do? Or would they decide that they can fit to what he does?

Other Panthers at the Combine are edge rusher Habakkuk Baldonado, linebacker SirVocea Dennis, safety Brandon Hill, tackle Carter Warren, and running back Israel Abanikanda. Several of them had previously appeared at either the Senior Bowl or the Shrine Bowl.

The Steelers had contingencies at both venues, but of course they also work right next door to the Panthers players, so it’s not as though they don’t have regular access. They know what’s going on there, and Khan believes there’s talent to be had there.

“There’s a handful of guys that are gonna be Sunday contributors sooner than later”, he said. And one might want to include former Pitt wide receiver Jordan Addison, another potential first-round draft pick who transferred to USC before declaring for the draft.

Will one of these players end up in Pittsburgh alongside Pickett? It wouldn’t be the first time the Steelers have taken into consideration the opinions of a player about a former college teammate. Maurkice Pouncey advised the team when they selected fellow Gators Marcus Gilbert in 2011 and Chris Rainey in 2012, although the latter really didn’t work out all too well.

Of course, this is an entirely legitimate way of gathering information about prospects. Teams ask a prospect’s teammates and coaches all the time about them to get a better feel for who they are. Their tape will always be their tape, but hearing from those who know him best as an athlete adds valued insight on which Pittsburgh—including new assistant general manager Andy Weidl—places a high priority.

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