Predicting Steelers Starters After 2022 NFL Draft

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMay 4, 2022

Predicting Steelers Starters After 2022 NFL Draft

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    The Pittsburgh Steelers did not have to move up in the 2022 NFL draft to land their Week 1 starter at quarterback. 

    Kenny Pickett fell to the Steelers at the 20th overall pick and he should enter training camp as the top player on the depth chart. 

    Pittsburgh signed Mitchell Trubisky in free agency as quarterback insurance, but it does not make sense to start him over a first-round pick.

    Trubisky was unsuccessful in his starting run as a first-round pick with the Chicago Bears and he is best suited right now to be the backup. 

    Pickett rightfully grabbed most of Pittsburgh's draft attention, but some of the Day 2 and Day 3 picks could see the field at a high rate in 2022. 

    Wide receiver George Pickens could be the No. 3 behind Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool, while DeMarvin Leal could add depth on the defensive line. 

Steelers Predicted Starters

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Offense

    QB: Kenny Pickett

    RB: Najee Harris

    WR: Diontae Johnson

    WR: Chase Claypool

    WR: George Pickens

    TE: Pat Freiermuth

    LT: Dan Moore Jr.

    LG: Kevin Dotson

    C: Kendrick Green

    RG: James Daniels

    RT: Chukwuma Okorafor

       

    Defense

    DE: Cameron Hayward

    DT: Tyson Alualu

    DE: Stephon Tuitt

    OLB: T.J. Watt

    OLB: Alex Highsmith

    ILB: Devin Bush

    ILB: Myles Jack

    CB: Levi Wallace

    CB: Cameron Sutton

    FS: Minkah Fitzpatrick

    SS: Terrell Edmunds

QB Kenny Pickett

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Pittsburgh did not use a first-round pick on Kenny Pickett to have him sit one year. 

    Pickett is entering familiar surroundings after spending his collegiate career at Pittsburgh and he should be given every chance to start. 

    Pickett threw 81 touchdowns and 32 interceptions at Pitt. He never had a season with a double-digit interception total. 

    That is a good starting point for his NFL career. Pickett needs to be a good decision-maker inside the Pittsburgh offense in order for the team to be competitive in the AFC North. 

    Pickett flexed his strengths as a passer in 2021 with 4,319 passing yards and 42 touchdown passes. He achieved that with a top wide receiver in Jordan Addison at his disposal. 

    The 20th overall pick will have plenty of talent to work with in Pittsburgh. Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool will be his top targets. George Pickens could develop into a solid third option.

    The 2021 selections of Najee Harris and Pat Freiermuth give Pickett plenty of security around the field in the passing game. 

    The supporting cast would help Mitchell Trubisky get his career back on track, but that is now the worst-case scenario for the Steelers. 

    Pickett is the quarterback of the future and he needs to given every opportunity possible to prove he is the long-term solution in the pocket. 

WR George Pickens

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    David E. Klutho/Getty Images

    The last three wide receivers or tight ends chosen by the Steelers on Day 2 of the NFL draft turned into starters. 

    The hope for George Pickens is that he turns into a contributor alongside Johnson, Claypool and Freiermuth to ease Pickett's transition into the NFL. 

    Pickens was a star recruit at Georgia, but his production was limited there because of an ACL injury. 

    Pickens had 727 receiving yards and eight touchdowns in his first season in the SEC. That is the production the Steelers should be excited about in 2022. 

    The second-round pick will not have the pressure of being the main pass-catcher in the offense. That should help ease his transition into a new offense. 

    Pickens could add another dynamic aspect to the Pittsburgh offense and he should have the No. 3 spot on the depth chart in the regular season.

    The Steelers lost James Washington and Ray-Ray McCloud in free agency and have some average backups in Miles Boykin and Anthony Miller behind Johnson and Claypool right now.

    The No. 3 wide receiver spot is there for the taking, and based on Pittsburgh's recent draft history, Pickens will be a success.

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