QB, Kenny Pickett – Pittsburgh Steelers
We’ll kick things off with the most likely scenario and that’s Kenny Pickett taking home the Offensive Rookie of the Year as the Pittsburgh Steelers new franchise quarterback.
First off, Pickett is the only player from the 2022 NFL Draft who has the luxury of not just staying in the same city he played college ball in, but the same facility as well. Providing him with some familiarity to simply focus on football and learn the system as every other rookie attempts to transition to the pro level.
Not only that but he’s also landed in one of the better scenarios among rookie quarterbacks.
While he will need to compete for the starting job against recent offseason acquisition, Mitchell Trubisky, and Steelers’ backup, Mason Rudolph. Which has led many to speculate that he won’t be a day one starter. As the first quarterback Pittsburgh has drafted in the first round since Ben Roethlisberger, it’s hard to imagine he won’t get the opportunity to start early on this season.
Pickett reportedly possesses fairly advanced knowledge of the game and (as we know) is the most NFL-ready quarterback from the 2022 NFL Draft. Outside of being the most experienced, and accurate passer from the draft, as well as the one who’s probably going to take the least amount of time to adjust. He’s also got all the necessary pieces around him to thrive next season.
We already know about the Steelers stout defense led by the 2021 Defensive Player of the Year, T.J. Watt as well as All-Pro defensive lineman, Cameron Heyward, All-Pro safety, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and recent signee, Myles Jack. But the team also has an extremely balanced offense as well.
Despite losing JuJu Smith-Schuster to the Chiefs, Pittsburgh still has an elite trio of wide receivers in Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson, and George Pickens. Not to mention their Pro-Bowl running back, Najee Harris, and the exciting young tight end, Pat Freiermuth.
Above all else, a quarterback has won the Offensive Rookie of the Year nine times in the last two decades. From Pickett’s predecessor, Ben Roethlisberger, all the way back in 2004, to Los Angeles Chargers’ superstar, Justin Herbert, in 2020. Which is far more than any other position, since only seven running backs and four wide receivers have won the Offensive Rookie of the Year award since 2002. So, history is on the side of Pickett and the Steelers.
Obviously, he’s not the only rookie quarterback who’s likely to take over the starting job next season. Since Matt Corral’s only competition in Carolina is Sam Darnold and Desmond Ridder would only need to beat out Marcus Mariota to take the reigns over in Atlanta. Although, I believe he’ll get the starting nod earlier than expected, and is surrounded by elite talent on both sides of the field. Which should help him have more immediate success.