Kenny Pickett burst onto the scenes in the NCAA last season for the University of Pittsburgh. In his senior season alone, Pickett threw for over 4,300 yards, with 42 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions. Pickett showed that his arm is not his only weapon, by rushing for 240 yards and 5 touchdowns as well.
With the signing of Mitch Trubisky this offseason, Pickett has a lot of competition around him. Trubisky sat out the entirety of last season, backing up Josh Allen on the Buffalo Bills. Aaron Rodgers deservedly won MVP for 2021, but I believe that Josh Allen could’ve won last year. I feel it is only a matter of time before Josh Allen does win an MVP. So, the theory is that Trubisky would’ve learned from the talented Allen in Buffalo, and brought that knowledge with him to Pittsburgh. The truth is however, that if anyone is the next Josh Allen in the league right now, it is Steeler’s rookie Kenny Pickett.
Being the only QB chosen in the 1st round of the 2022 NFL Draft spells pressure, but Kenny Pickett has conquered pressure every time it arrives. In the ACC championship last year, Kenny Pickett lead the Pitt Panthers to a thumping 45-21 beatdown over Wake Forest. Pickett yet again shined under the lights throwing for 250 yards and 2 touchdowns, capping off his night with his famed “fake slide” rushing touchdown that went viral instantly on social media.
Kenny Pickett’s Fake Slide in ACC Championship
Pickett is undoubtedly too talented to be on the bench for the Steelers this season. There shouldn’t be any worry or concern about or “letting him watch and learn before playing”. This is a guy with generational talent. He is the best quarterback to come out of the University of Pittsburgh since Dan Marino. Better yet, he is already beloved by the city of Pittsburgh as fans have seen him play at Heinz Field for the last several years. Here is the hot take: Start Kenny Pickett week 1
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Mitch Trubisky > Kenny Pickett. People with generational talent don’t stay in college for five years. Pickett stayed because he threw 13 total touchdowns in both his junior and senior seasons and only 12 in his sophomore season. 42 in his 5th year is quite the improvement I must admit, but when one year is better than your previous four years combined, you’re not a generational talent, you had a good year for a good team. Had Kenny not stayed for a 5th year, his 13TD 9INT 2,408YD 203 CMPs on 332 ATTs for a 61.1% comp percentage would have seen him likely drafted after the 5th RD, if drafted at all. Kenny Pickett stayed in college for 5 years because he had no other choice and because of a COVID exception. Had COVID not saved Kenny and handed him another year of college, he would have been a CFL player at best and would likely be a more forgettable Pitt quarterback than Nathan Peterman. Furthermore, the only reason Pickett’s statistics are better than Marino’s is because he played 5 years in a pass heavy era of football compared to Marino’s 4 years in an extremely run heavy era. And even despite playing in a run heavy era of the game, Dan Marino was able to establish himself as an elite passer of the ball and reader of the game without an extra year or a COVID exception because he was a LEGITIMATE generational talent. Trubisky is the obvious choice for the Steelers to run the offense because he has the power and strength to be a pocket passer but also the speed and mobility to run Matt Canada’s preferred offense filled with QB runs, play action, and pre-snap motion while also being able to use his speed and agility to escape the pass rush and break out of the pocket if need be, abilities the Steelers(and Mike Tomlin) have clearly stated they want in the next starting QB. Also, Mitch Trubisky is a former 2nd overall draft pick who was able to lead Matt Nagy’s horrifically coached Chicago Bears to two playoff appearances. Compare that to Deshaun Watson who many NFL “experts” consider the future of the league and perhaps better than Josh Allen as evidenced by the fact he was just made the highest paid player in NFL history. Watson was drafted the same year as Trubisky and averaged stats in his time in Houston that were just marginally better than Mitch’s while with Chicago. However, Watson was never able to bring his Texans within a whiff of the playoffs and he has yet to make a playoff appearance. Considering the Browns gave $200 million guaranteed to a Deshaun Watson who hasn’t played in a year and has no postseason experience, it is more than a bargain that the Steelers got a postseason experienced Trubisky for $14 million after playing backup for a year in the most prolific offense in the AFC. Trubisky will likely start and remain the starter for the entirety of the 2022/23 season and will likely cause the Steelers to regret taking Pickett in the first round when a generational talent center in Tyler Linderbaum was still available and could have fixed a glaring hole on the offense, though, to add insult to injury, was taken four picks later by the Baltimore Ravens after being passed on by Colbert. Pickett wasn’t drafted as a testament to his ability. He was drafted by a retiring Kevin Colbert who wanted to leave his mark by drafting the next Steelers starter for years to come. He also didn’t want to make the same mistake the Steelers had previously made by passing up on Dan Marino. However, the key difference is that Kenny Pickett is no Dan Marino and likely shouldn’t be mentioned in the same breathe as the Hall of Famer until he has proven himself in the NFL which he likely won’t because he won’t be the Steelers starter for years to come, no matter how badly Steeler fans and Colbert want him to be. The reality is that Kenny Pickett would have been available in the 3rd round along with Malik Willis and after seeing what Trubisky can do, the Steelers will feel foolish for passing on better options such as Linderbaum in the first round.