ESPN breaks down spring drills for first 32 rounds: Kenny Pickett ‘has an uphill battle’ to start

The Pittsburgh Steelers, at least publicly, say they don’t yet know who their starting quarterback will be, though privately they probably have a pretty good idea. When Ben Roethlisberger retired, they brought in Mitch Trubisky as a free agent before drafting Kenny Pickett in the first round. And Pickett was their third-string guy while anyone willing to broach the subject recognized Trubisky as the starter.

While Pickett’s most appealing quality over the rest of the Draft quarterback course was his alleged NFL readiness, it should never come as a surprise when a rookie isn’t expected to start right away. He is, of course, just one of 32 players drafted in the first round, and recently ESPN compiled a list of observations on how each has fared in the spring so far. Brooke Pryor writes of Pickett for the Steelers:

Pickett has worked with the third-team offense throughout OTAs and minicamp, but he’s a big presence in the Steelers’ methodical quarterback competition. “We’ve been very clear that this is a real dispensational plan of how we’re going to evolve and find who will be our quarterback for the 2022 season,” offensive coordinator Matt Canada told Miniicamp. Of the three quarterbacks competing for the job, Mitch Trubisky has been the most consistent and Pickett has an uphill battle to topple him from that top spot.

Wide receiver Chase Claypool, however, was impressed with Pickett’s mastery of the playbook. “He gets it all,” Claypool said. “Sometimes I’ll be like, ‘Yo, what have I got here?’ ‘Cause we’ve got some new stuff going on, and he’ll tell me right now Next up: Pickett is going to Florida to train with Trubisky.

Of course, it’s always worth remembering that we’re just yin june, and serious competition for roster spots and starting jobs really doesn’t start happening until we enter boot camp. The pre-season games will say a lot more about the measure along Pickett may or may not be a planned hierarchy command for the spring drills, a time focused on teaching rather than performative assessment.

Trubisky is still considered the favorite to start, but expect at least some nominal competition for the position. I imagine Pickett will get his chance to start one of three preseason games, probably Game 2, and if he manages to put in a strong showing there, it will open up the conversation about whether ‘He should actually be the record-breaking quarterback now rather than in the future.

But we have a long way to go before we get there. And really, if Trubisky starts, Pickett will always be over his shoulder. Trubisky understands the Steelers drafted Pickett because they believe he will be their starting quarterback at some point. Which means he can become their starting quarterback at any indicate.