Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett is in the process of preparing for the upcoming NFL draft, and on Sunday morning, NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport floated him as a potential fit for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who will be in need of a quarterback ahead of the 2022 season.
“The Pittsburgh Steelers need to figure out who is their next Roethlisberger, who is their next franchise quarterback,” Rapoport said on the NFL Network. “I talked to several sources who said over the course of the week that it would be very un-Steelers-like to take a bunch of first-round draft picks and trade it for some veteran. In fact, [Steelers] general manager Kevin Colbert — still in control of the Steelers until likely through the draft — he has only traded a first-rounder for a player one time.”
“Here is the way it is expected to play out,” Rapoport continued. “The Steelers, I am told, are expected to take a quarterback in the first round of this coming draft.”
The NFL insider went on to highlight Pickett as an option that might appeal to the Steelers as a player who they should be highly familiar with. Rapoport also noted that Pickett’s current standing as a probable first-rounder expected to fall outside the top 10 could make him a realistic option for the Steelers in late April.
“Kenny Pickett from Pitt is an interesting name to watch here,” Rapoport said. “This is probably where he’s going to go, where the Steelers are going to pick in the middle of the first round. They also share a facility with him, so they have plenty of research.”
Pickett would be an intriguing pick for the team, as he rose to prominence in Pittsburgh in 2021 amid a breakout year in which he led Pitt to its first ACC championship in program history. All told, Pickett threw for 4,319 yards and 42 touchdowns while completing 67.2 percent of his passes and limiting himself to seven picks last season. He also seized several records, becoming Pitt’s leader in career passing yards and passing touchdowns and was honored as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.
The Steelers have a history of passing over talented quarterbacks out of Pitt, as they notoriously decided against drafting Dan Marino in 1983. However, in recent years, the team has looked to Pitt to meet some of its other needs, as it notably selected James Conner in the third round of the 2017 draft and saw him become a standout. With that said, there is a chance the stars could align for Pickett to continue his career in Pittsburgh. But with the Senior Bowl and NFL combine coming up, Pickett’s draft stock could fluctuate. So his future will remain unclear until late April.