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Steelers ‘Could Be In A Really Good Spot’ If Kenny Pickett Steps Up, PFF Believes, Set Up Well For Draft

The future of football is bright in Pittsburgh, or so the Steelers hope. They tied their fate last year to the arm of Kenny Pickett, former Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback, selecting him 20th overall in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. And one of their chief focuses since then has been keeping him standing.

That’s where Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus believes their best hopes lie, and he sees them moving in that direction. In an article published today analyzing the state of every franchise heading into the draft, he sounded optimistic about the Steelers’ future, provided that their young quarterback delivers.

An interior offensive line featuring James Daniels and newly signed Isaac Seumalo at guard should lead to some clean pockets for Kenny Pickett, and taking a swing on a tackle in the first round could be wise”, he wrote. “If Kenny Pickett does take a sophomore leap, Pittsburgh could be in a really good spot with a talented offensive unit chock-full of rookie contract players”.

Daniels was the Steelers’ biggest signing in free agency a year ago and he played every snap of the 2022 season at right guard. Like the rest of the offensive line, he had some growing pains, but rounded into a very solid player. Seumalo was their biggest outside addition this year and expects to plug in immediately at left guard.

Spielberger also mentioned that if the Steelers don’t go with a tackle in round one, there are about five or so cornerbacks who merit a first-round grade this year. While he didn’t mention any specific names, the most likely options are Christian Gonzalez and Joey Porter Jr.

Pittsburgh’s primary focus this offseason has been to insulate itself at key positions and create competition. While there are still some relatively minor holes to fill, such as third-string quarterback and wide receiver, the PFF scribe sees a team set up well for the draft.

“The Steelers are operating like a team that believes in its young quarterback, bolstering their offensive line and adding or retaining a few key pieces on defense in free agency”, he noted. He highlighted their 2022 trade, acquiring the 32nd-overall pick from the Chicago Bears in exchange for Chase Claypool, calling it a “slam-dunk move” for general manager Omar Khan that “opens up a lot of options early in the draft”.

That additional high pick gives the Steelers three selections in the top 49, which should give them the resources to land at least two, if not three rookie starters this year, or at least substantial contributors. If they do take a tackle in the first round, for example, he should be able to compete with and take a job away from either Dan Moore Jr. or Chukwuma Okorafor.

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