Steelers Take Pickett in First Round of NFL Draft

0
303
Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin and GM Kevin Colbert at 2022 NFL Draft Press Conference ( Photo Credit : Brian Cook -Golden Sky Media)

                    Steelers First Round Selection : Kenny Pickett 

Pittsburgh, Pa-The Pittsburgh Steelers philosophy has always been to draft the best player available in the first round of the NFL Draft and at pick #20, they did not have to look far to find that best player as they selected University of Pittsburgh QB Kenny Pickett.

 

No one predicted that Pickett would even be available to the Steelers as he was rumored to be drafted by either the Carolina Panthers or New Orleans Saints. But when the Panthers grabbed OT Ikem Ekwonu (NC State) and the Saints surprised everyone with their selection of WR Chris Olave (Ohio State) The Steelers knew they had an opportunity to draft Pickett, Liberty’s Malik Willis, or any of the top QBs, (because at that point, no QB had been drafted) but they chose Pickett.

“You know, it’s interesting, well, we circled the globe or at least the United States here the last several months, man, just exploring and researching, and it’s funny, we ended up with a guy from next door.” Said Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin “We’re excited about it. Just to be able to not only know what he’s capable of, but to see his process, his maturation process, his developmental process is just a great deal of comfort, and we’re excited.”

Pickett played at Pitt for five seasons, but it was his record-setting 2021 season that got all the attention as he passed for 4,319 yards with 42 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. Including his five rushing scores, he totaled 47 touchdowns. He also led the Panthers to their 2nd Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Coastal Division title in three seasons and their first ever ACC Championship in school history.

 

Pickett also set an ACC season record for touchdown passes, breaking the prior mark of 41 set by Clemson’s Deshaun Watson in 2016.

Pickett was named a first team All-American by the Walter Camp Football Foundation and American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), becoming the first Pitt quarterback to earn first-team status since Marino in 1981.

Pickett was selected the winner of the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award (presented to the top upperclassman quarterback set to graduate with his class) and the Senior CLASS Award (presented to the most outstanding senior Football Bowl Subdivision student-athlete). He additionally was a Heisman Trophy finalist—Pitt’s first since receiver Larry Fitzgerald in 2003—and finished third in the balloting.

 

It is an understatement that the Steelers were impressed.

‘But honestly, Kenny developed, obviously had a great senior year, and it was a good move for him to stay in school.” Said Colbert “It just talks and preaches about what you can do when you stay and continue to develop and turn into a first-round pick. Kenny is special, and he grew from — like I said, we watched him come in as a freshman. You knew who he was, and when he became their starter, you just continued to watch him grow into the great season that he had.”

When asked about how they will manage this with fellow Steelers QBs Mitch Tribusky and Mason Rudolph in terms of letting them know what they were doing, Tomlin replied “: It’s really nothing to handle. Those guys are competitors. We’re in a competitors’ business. They understand that. They understand that we’re building the construction of the team to win. So, I’m sure they’re excited about having an opportunity to put their skills on display.”

 


Notes: The NFL honored QB Dwayne Haskins with a moment of silence at the 2022 draft. Haskins was a member of the Steelers when he tragically died on April 9, news that shocked the sporting world.

Ray Porter Jr -Urban Media Today Sports

Please e-mail Ray at rayporterjr72@gmail.com

Follow him @RP2872_Jr on Twitter