Secure to say rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett and his high level of play through two preseason games is forcing the Pittsburgh Steelers’ hand at quarterback position ahead of the beginning of the regular season.
All offseason, the idea was that veteran free agent signee Mitch Trubisky was going to be the guy to open the season Week 1 on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals with Mason Rudolph likely because the No. 2 and Pickett because the No. 3 and mostly inactive on game days. Following a slow begin to his first NFL training camp, which was no unexpected, Pickett has turned it on and shown just how NFL-ready he was coming out of the University of Pittsburgh, where he had a record-setting season on his solution to an ACC championship and a Heisman Trophy finalist.
Through two preseason games, Pickett is 19-for-22 for 171 yard and three touchdowns, sporting a formidable 138.6 passer rating in slightly below three quarters of motion against the Seattle Seahawks and Jacksonville Jaguars. There was the game-winning drive against the Seahawks at Acrisure Stadium, after which the sparkling two-minute drive to shut the half against the Jaguars that has turned heads and raised eyebrows regarding the No. 20 overall pick within the 2022 NFL Draft.
The calls for him to be the starting quarterback are getting louder and louder. On Monday, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin hinted that the starting quarterback job stays an open one and could possibly be determined within the preseason finale against the Detroit Lions Sunday at Acrisure Stadium.
Tuesday morning, former NFL quarterback turned ESPN analyst Tim Hasselbeck, appearing on Get Up!, made the case for Pickett’s time because the starting quarterback to be immediately, moderately than keeping him on the sideline to learn and grow.
“I feel Kenny Pickett’s the starting quarterback by Week 4,” Hasselbeck stated on Get Up! Tuesday morning, in response to video via the NFL on ESPN YouTube page. “You heard Adam [Schefter] consult with Kenny Pickett because the ‘young kid.’ The truth is, he’s not a young kid, which is certainly one of the the explanation why I feel they need to play him straight away.
“…Kenny Pickett has nearly 50 starts at the school level. Some guys get drafted based on potential of what they is perhaps. Some guys get drafted because they is perhaps ready to come back right in and play. That, to me, is Kenny Pickett,” Hasselbeck added. “He wasn’t a possible pick. He was a pick because he played a number of football, weathered the storm as a university quarterback and I feel people liked what they saw. For me, I wouldn’t put him on the sideline to learn the sport. He’s learned the sport. It’s time for Kenny Pickett to truly play.”
Hasselbeck, who played within the NFL from 2002-07, makes a terrific point about Pickett relating to seeing the sector and needing to play. Coming out of Pittsburgh, Pickett was praised for being essentially the most NFL-ready guy out of the likes of Desmond Ridder, Carson Strong, Malik Willis and more. To this point throughout training camp and the preseason, that’s been the case.
Kenny Pickett becoming the starter in Pittsburgh could also be all but inevitable 👀
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) August 22, 2022
He looks able to go immediately, and is admittedly forcing the Steelers’ hand on the position. Tomlin stated all offseason that he wasn’t going to place a number or anything on when Pickett could be ready and worthy of the starting job. As an alternative, Tomlin stated he’d let it play out on the sector and make the choice to go together with the guy that offers the Steelers the most effective likelihood to win.
To this point, that appears like Pickett through no fault of Mitch Trubisky or Mason Rudolph, each of whom have looked good throughout training camp and the preseason. Pickett has just found one other level under the intense lights in comparison with the opposite two, throwing with great anticipation, good overall ball placement and having a robust command of the huddle and grasp of the offense.
Sitting him on the bench at this point is perhaps a mistake. He’s done every part asked of him and has played extremely well. In fact, keeping him out of the starting lineup is perhaps to guard him behind a woeful offensive line that remains to be attempting to gel and find its game, but there’s something to be said for Pickett’s pre- and post-snap abilities to digest what’s happening at a lightening-quick pace, allowing him to do away with the football quickly and to the appropriate area of the sector, helping the Steelers offense move the football consistently.
We’ll see the way it plays out Sunday at Acrisure Stadium against the Lions. Don’t be surprised if Pickett looks really good once more and is the starting quarterback moving forward. It’s beginning to look increasingly more prefer it’s time.