Rapoport: Kenny Pickett 'A Name to Watch' for Steelers Replacing Ben Roethlisberger

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 17, 2022

Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett looks to pass against Wake Forest during the first half of the Atlantic Coast Conference championship NCAA college football game Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
AP Photo/Chris Carlson

The Pittsburgh Steelers could look to start fresh at the quarterback position by selecting Pittsburgh's Kenny Pickett in the 2022 NFL draft, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network:

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

From <a href="https://twitter.com/gmfb?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@GMFB</a>: With Ben Roethlisberger playing his last game, the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Steelers?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Steelers</a> shift focus to what’s next at the QB position. <a href="https://t.co/4kN7edfYzr">pic.twitter.com/4kN7edfYzr</a>

"Kenny Pickett's a name to watch," Rapoport said Monday on Good Morning Football. "He goes to Pitt, they share a facility with the Steelers, they've done a lot of homework on him, it's easy to have those conversations, they've seen him in person. Not saying that's gonna be the guy, but there's a lot to like between those two parties."

Roethlisberger, 39, hasn't officially announced his retirement, but he and others indicated Sunday's 42-21 playoff loss to the Kansas City Chiefs was his last game.

"As we move from one chapter to the next, it's going to be different, but it's going to be fun," he said after the game.

Rapoport noted the Steelers will give both Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins a chance to earn the starting job next year and that they are unlikely to trade picks for a star such as Russell Wilson or Aaron Rodgers.

The draft will still be the best place to find a long-term replacement at the position.

Even in what seems like a down year at quarterback, there are several players who could go in the first round, including Pickett, Desmond Ridder, Matt Corral and Malik Willis. The latest mock draft from Bleacher Report's Scouting Department projected Ridder going No. 9 overall as the first quarterback off the board, followed by Pickett at No. 11.

The Steelers are set to pick 20th overall.

Of all the top QB prospects in this class, no one had a better 2021 season than Pickett. He led his team to an ACC title while totaling 4,319 passing yards, 42 touchdown passes and just seven interceptions in 13 games. He also finished third in Heisman Trophy voting behind Alabama's Bryce Young and Michigan's Aidan Hutchinson.

Pickett is accurate and athletic, but the biggest concern could be whether this was a one-year fluke after he totaled just 38 touchdown passes in his previous three seasons as a starter.

The Steelers should at least have a good assessment of the local product heading into April's draft.