Kenny Pickett wasn't named the Pittsburgh Steelers starting quarterback for Week 1, but NFL executives still believe he'll be named the Offensive Rookie of the Year come season's end.
"Even if [Pickett] starts 10-12 games, the spotlight will be on him and he's got good weapons around him," an NFL personnel man told ESPN's Jeremy Fowler. "The offensive line would have to hold up."
ESPN noted that the Offensive Rookie of the Year voting was "complicated" because no rookie quarterbacks are slated to start Week 1 and there is "also not a clear-cut offensive playmaker here."
Running backs Dameon Pierce, Kenneth Walker III and Breece Hall also received votes, as did wide receivers Chris Olave, George Pickens and Garrett Wilson.
The Steelers named Mitch Trubisky their starting quarterback for Week 1. Head coach Mike Tomlin said the team is "really comfortable" with what the veteran has shown this summer.
He added he was "really pleased with the growth and development" of Pickett, which is why he was listed as the team's backup quarterback.
Trubisky opened training camp as the favorite to win the starting job after agreeing to a two-year contract with the Steelers in March. However, Pickett made the team's quarterback competition interesting this summer.
The 2022 first-round pick out of Pitt was impressive through the Steelers' three preseason games, completing 29 of 36 attempts for 261 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Tomlin told reporters of the team's quarterback competition during training camp: "They’re making it difficult for us. It’s tough to manage three capable guys, but they're forcing us to do it because they're making the necessary plays. They're anticipating, the timing has been good, the accuracy has been good."
Considering the competition was stiff, it wouldn't be surprising to see Pickett take over if Trubisky struggles. But one of the main questions will be whether he takes over in time to win Offensive Rookie of the Year.
The last quarterback to win the ORoY was Los Angeles Chargers star Justin Herbert during the 2020 season. Robert Griffin III, Dak Prescott and Kyler Murray are the only other quarterbacks to win the award in the last 10 years.