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Kenny Pickett was the first quarterback to be drafted as he returns to returns to Heinz Field, where he has played college football for Pitt for the past five seasons.
Last Updated: 30/04/22 11:44pm
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has suggested first-round quarterback Kenny Pickett could start for the team in week one of the 2022 season.
Pickett was the only play-caller to be taken in the opening round of the Draft on Thursday night as he landed with the Steelers at 20th overall.
He arrives as competition for offseason acquisition Mitchell Trubisky and backup Mason Rudolph following the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger and tragic passing of Dwayne Haskins.
“He certainly has a chance [to be week one starter] and I agree with that sentiment of his readiness from a professional perspective,” said Tomlin, speaking to NFL Network on day three of the Draft.
“Those two things that really attracted us to him from a floor standpoint, we thought he had pro-level anticipation, pro-level accuracy and often those are two variables that really require a lot of adjustment.
“We felt he came ready-made in those ways, hopefully it’s an asset for him being ready to compete.”
Pickett needs no introduction to his surroundings nor will he have to move his belongings far as he returns to Heinz Field where he has represented Pitt in college for the past five seasons.
The 23-year-old finished third in Heisman Trophy voting and was named first-team All-American in a standout 2021 as he threw for 4,319 yards and 42 touchdowns, both single-season records.
“We were really attracted to the intangibles things that everyone is aware of, the stellar season he had to lead his team to an ACC Championship, being a Heisman finalist, rewriting the Pitt record books, being considered alongside the likes of Dan Marino, we saw all of that,” said Tomlin.
“But we also saw his process, his growth and maturation as a football player, his growth and maturation as a leader, we saw his day-to-day.
“Just things from a proximity standpoint, often times where you’re speculating through this process, we weren’t speculating at all and felt really comfortable because of that intimate knowledge that we have of the young man beyond the things all of us know.
“One of the things that was very evident about Kenny being next door is he’s a ridiculous competitor so we’re excited about putting him in the mix and watching him compete against Mitch and Mason.”
Tomlin also welcomed the opportunity to work with Texas A&M defensive lineman DeMarvin Leal, who was picked up by the Steelers with the 84th pick in the third round on Friday.
“We’re so excited about this young man and his talent level,” he said. “He’s experienced and young being a third-year junior that has played quite a bit, he’s excelled at really the highest stage you can excel at at college football in that division.
“I thought he represented himself extremely well in some Sunday-like matchups. I watched a lot of the Alabama matchup for instance.
“All of those things being said, we still feel like he’s somewhat raw, he has ways to go from a developmental standpoint and that’s something we covered here at Pittsburgh. We’re excited about being part of his growth process.”
Upon selecting Pickett the Steelers proceeded to bolster their receiving options on day two by selecting Georgia’s George Pickens with the 52nd pick, before adding Memphis wideout Calvin Austin in round four.
In one of the stories of day three, they also introduced Michigan State fullback Connor Heyward, the younger brother of Steelers defensive lineman Cam Heyward.