To the surprise of some, there was only one quarterback selected in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. It didn’t come until the 20th overall pick when the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Pittsburgh’s, Kenny Pickett.
That was the latest that the first quarterback has come off the board since 1997 when Jim Druckenmiller was selected No. 26 overall by the San Francisco 49ers. The Steelers couldn’t be happier about how things shook out.
There were a lot of rumors swirling that a quarterback could go as high as No. 2 to the Detroit Lions. Instead, they quickly snatched up Aidan Hutchinson after the Jacksonville Jaguars selected Trayvon Walker first overall.
The Houston Texans, Atlanta Falcons, Seattle Seahawks and New Orleans Saints all went in different directions as well. That led to quarterbacks sliding down the board and the Steelers ending up with their guy in Pickett.
The Steelers have a lot of access to Pickett, as he played collegiately in the same stadium they host games on Sunday afternoons. As one NFL scout told NFL Analysis Network, Pickett was who they wanted all along and were shocked they were able to land him without moving up in the draft.
“Pittsburgh had been targeting Kenny Pickett throughout this entire process. Getting him was a huge surprise and a major win for the franchise. Don’t be surprised if he ends up starting at some point in his rookie year.”
The Steelers signed Mitchell Trubisky during free agency, likely as a stopgap addition. No one believed that signing would keep the Steelers from selecting a quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft and they were correct.
Pickett looked like the most NFL-ready of this year’s quarterback class, seemingly being cemented as the No. 1 or 2 option along with Malik Willis out of Liberty. The only real knock against Pickett during the draft process was his hand size, as he can make all the throws and possesses some athleticism and running ability as well.
The Steelers and their fans are certainly happy, as most of them have been rooting on Pickett for the past five years with the Panthers. It will be an easy adjustment for him to remain in the city, but he will have some huge shoes to fill after Ben Roethlisberger announced his retirement earlier this offseason.