King: Steelers Think Kenny Pickett 'More Likely to Succeed' in NFL Than Malik Willis

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVApril 25, 2022

Quarterback Kenny Pickett (8) goes through passing drills during Pittsburgh's football pro day , Monday, March 21, 2022, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

The Pittsburgh Steelers are reportedly higher on Kenny Pickett than Malik Willis heading into the 2022 NFL draft.

Peter King of NBC Sports reported Monday the Steelers believe Pickett is "more likely to succeed as a pro."

It's possible Pittsburgh will have its choice of both quarterbacks when the team comes on the clock with the No. 20 overall pick in the NFL draft, which begins Thursday.

Pickett is considered the most NFL-ready quarterback in this class after spending the past four years as a starter at Pitt. He threw for 4,319 yards and 42 touchdowns against seven interceptions while being named a Heisman finalist. 

Steelers brass got a long and hard look at Pickett throughout his NFL career simply by proximity; the natural fit of him continuing his pro career in the same city where he played in college creates some potential level of instant comfort.

Willis, often cited as the most physically gifted quarterback in this class, is on the more raw side and could take a year or two to develop. He did not put up elite counting stats while facing subpar competition at Liberty. It's possible the Steelers are more comfortable with the surer thing, rather than rolling the dice on a more unproven commodity in Willis. 

That said, Pittsburgh may not even have a choice. The likelihood of both players still being available at No. 20 is small. Quarterback scarcity is a massive concern around the NFL, and teams are more willing than ever to take risks given the cost-controlled rookie salary scale.