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Steelers QB Kenny Pickett Needs to Be '2nd Coming of Johnny Unitas' to Start Week 1

Adam WellsJune 30, 2022

Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Despite being the Pittsburgh Steelers' first-round pick and potential long-term successor to Ben Roethlisberger, it doesn't sound like Kenny Pickett has much of a chance to start in Week 1 of the 2022 season.

Per ESPN's Brooke Pryor, Pickett would likely have to be the "second coming of Johnny Unitas" at the start of training camp to win the starting quarterback job over Mitchell Trubisky.

At some point, the Steelers will go with Pickett as their starter. Teams don't draft a quarterback in the first round with plans to sit him for an extended period of time—unless you have an incumbent starter who goes on to win back-to-back MVP awards after making the pick.

It hasn't been a secret that Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin favors Trubisky in the quarterback competition right now.

Offensive coordinator Matt Canada told reporters on June 10 that Tomlin "has been very clear" that Trubisky is the No. 1 guy. He has also been working with the starters throughout the offseason.

Canada noted that Mason Rudolph is currently second on the depth chart, followed by Pickett at three. That's not an indictment of Pickett's talent, but because they are "working that way based on experience, based on resume."

The Steelers showed last year they don't need good quarterback play to be a playoff team, as Roethlisberger was the second-worst starting quarterback in the NFL, per grading metrics from Kevin Cole of Pro Football Focus.

Despite those limitations in the passing game, Pittsburgh finished 9-7-1 and earned the No. 7 seed in the AFC. The Steelers then lost to the Kansas City Chiefs, 42-21, in the Wild Card Round.

Trubisky has posted solid numbers as a starter in his career, as the 27-year-old has thrown for 10,652 yards, 64 touchdowns and 38 interceptions in 57 games since 2017. He's also an underrated runner with 1,081 rushing yards and nine touchdowns.

If the Steelers are just looking for a baseline level of competency at quarterback in 2022, Trubisky isn't a bad option. They will be hoping that Pickett eventually develops into the player who can lead them to greater heights in the future.

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