The long-overdue pursuit of the Pittsburgh Steelers heir to the Ben Roethlisberger throne is in full swing.
Johnny McGonigal, who covers Pittsburgh Panthers football for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, tweeted on November 10 that Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert will be one of five GMs in attendance for the November 11 Pitt-UNC football game at Heinz Field.
With 3,171 yards, 29 touchdowns and just three interceptions, Pickett is, arguably, the top quarterback prospect of the 2022 NFL draft through nine weeks of the NCAA season.
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When Mark Kaboly of The Athletic was asked his thoughts on Pickett in a recent Kaboly’s Mailbag, here’s what he had to say:
I was sold on Pickett from probably the third game into the season. He can make all the throws, he is smart, he is somewhat athletic and he has a ton of experience. He has everything a team wants in a quarterback other than maybe an athletic body. He deserves the Heisman Trophy at this moment. What I like the most is the jump he made from his fourth year to his fifth. That says a lot about him and surely scouts and front offices like that as well. He would be a perfect fit for the Steelers, but you know how quarterbacks are valued in the NFL. He will be overdrafted and certainly go in the top 12, a place where the Steelers wouldn’t pull the trigger.
If the Steelers continue their win streak, they could be drafting near the bottom of the 2022 NFL draft (since 2012, the Steelers have drafted at an average spot of 24). If Pickett continues on his path, he’ll be drafted in the top 10. Unless the Steelers crash and burn over the next nine games, that’ll be too rich for their blood.
Pittsburgh was sitting pretty at No. 11 when they selected Ben Roethlisberger in 2004. In 2018, the Steelers traded up to take quarterback Mason Rudolph at No. 76. Per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, that made Rudolph the team’s highest-drafted quarterback and fifth quarterback selected since Roethlisberger.
The Future For Big Ben in Pittsburgh
Ben Roethlisberger’s future in Pittsburgh is cloudy. No one knows if he’ll return in 2022, not even the quarterback himself. Sound familiar? That’s because, regarding their quarterback situation, the Steelers are in the same boat as they were in 2021. Publicly, it was unclear whether Roethlisberger would be at the helm of the Black and Gold until the team signed him to a new one-year contract in March of 2021.
The Steelers’ current succession plan at quarterback is Mason Rudolph <crickets>. If Roethlisberger approaches owner and president Art Rooney II in the spring and says he wants to continue playing, I imagine they’ll whip up a new deal.
Otherwise, Rudolph will be starting in 2022. And Rudolph has proven, if anything, that he’s Band-Aid material without the chops to be a legit starter. As of right now, though, he’s Pittsburgh’s only signal-caller with a contract.
The Steelers took a running back, Najee Harris, with their first-round pick in the 2021 NFL draft to take some pressure off Roethlisberger. Harris, coupled with a high-round pick (or two) along the offensive line in 2022, might just keep Big Ben around for another season or two.
For better or worse.