Is Kenny Pickett the future QB1 for the Pittsburgh Steelers?

Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback Kenny Pickett (8). Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback Kenny Pickett (8). Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

With reports that Ben Roethlisberger is retiring after this season, a new QB1 will be needed. A prospect already in Pittsburgh could prove to be the best option for the Steelers.

As the 2021 regular season winds down, many underperforming teams are shifting their attention to the upcoming NFL draft. While a majority of teams have already locked in their quarterback of the future, there are still a few who are looking to fill the need. But no team may be in more need than the Pittsburgh Steelers.

With recent reports that Ben Roethlisberger is heading to retirement after this season, the Steelers may find themselves in a position where they need a new QB1. The next man up in Pittsburgh would be current QB2 Mason Rudolph. In 17 career appearances, Rudolph has just 16 passing touchdowns and 11 interceptions. The Steelers may not view Rudolph as the long-term option at quarterback. And that is where one of this year’s rookie quarterbacks could come into play.

It is clear that this year’s quarterback class lacks the “star” status that has been seen in recent years. There is no clear-cut best option, but instead 3-4 quarterbacks who could all fight for the top spot. But one, in particular, could make his case as the best option for the Steelers. And he is already in Pittsburgh.

Many people believe that Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett could be the best that this year’s class has to offer. Pickett, a four-year starter at Pitt, raised his stock significantly this past season. The 5th-year senior opted to come back for one final year and eventually led this Pitt team to an 11-2 record and a spot in the Peach Bowl.

Pickett has proved himself at the college level. He appeared in 52 games for Pitt and threw for 81 touchdowns and over 12,000 passing yards. The 24-year old quarterback also finished third in the Heisman voting. And he could be exactly what the Steelers need to get back on course.

While Pickett may be most known for his fake QB slide, he also has one of the best arms in college football.

Is Pickett the best option for Steelers?

Throughout this season, Pickett has showcased all of his abilities. He has made big plays through the air and on the ground. He finished the year throwing 42 touchdowns to just seven interceptions. He added another five touchdowns on the ground.

When watching Pickett, there are two notable things that stick out. His ability to force the ball down the field and his ability to always make a play. When watching the Steelers, these are two things that haven’t been seen too often this season.

With playmakers such as running back Najee Harris, and wide receivers Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson, this offense has untapped potential. These players, paired alongside a returning Juju Smith-Schuster and an up-and-coming tight end in Pat Freiermuth, have all the makings of a top offense in the NFL. While they have been plagued by poor offensive line play, they have also been hurt by below-average QB play at times.

Both Claypool and Johnson excel on plays made down the field. Pickett could be the perfect candidate to help make these plays down the field. He has proven that he is accurate and has the necessary arm strength. These traits should translate to the NFL game.

While there is no clear-cut top quarterback in this year’s class, and a case could be made that each prospect could fit into this Steelers offense, Pickett could very well be the best one. His abilities outshine his flaws and this offense would only be heightened by his arrival. He could prove to be an intriguing option for this young Steelers team.