From a quarterback perspective, the 2022 and 2023 NFL drafts may prove to be complete polar opposites.
In 2022, NFL teams drafted just one signal caller in the first 85 selections. This year, it’s possible four quarterbacks could go in the first five picks.
But those facts didn’t stop former NFL MVP quarterback and now analyst Rich Gannon from placing enormous praise on Pittsburgh Steelers signal caller Kenny Pickett.
In fact, Gannon said if he were picking first in this year’s draft and Pickett were available, he’d draft Pickett ahead of Alabama’s Bryce Young and Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud.
“If it were me, I’d take him in front of everybody,” Gannon said on his show on Sirius XM Radio. “I just really like him.”
The Steelers nabbed Pickett at No. 20 overall last year. Not only was he the first quarterback off the board, but Pickett was also the only signal caller taken until the Atlanta Falcons drafted Desmond Ridder at No. 74 overall.
Steelers Found Value With Kenny Pickett at No. 20 in 2022 NFL Draft
It’s not often that a team can sit and wait for the entire quarterback class to be available at No. 20 overall. Before last year, the last time a signal caller wasn’t taken in the first 19 picks was 1997.
But that was the reality for the Steelers last year.
For a lot of analysts, that was a signal that the 2022 quarterback class was perhaps the weakest one for the league in 25 years. Instead, Gannon argued the situation gave the Steelers excellent value.
“I think in hindsight when you look at what the Steelers did in the draft with Kenny Pickett and where they took him with that 20th overall pick, that was great value,” said Gannon.
If Pickett develops into a franchise quarterback, Gannon will absolutely be correct. It’s very difficult to win a championship without a top 10 quarterback in the league. Because of that, the elite signal callers are invaluable.
The Steelers getting a long-time starting quarterback (assuming that’s what Pickett becomes) at No. 20 could prove to be one of the biggest draft steals in recent memory.
Rich Gannon Projects Pickett at No. 1 in 2023 Hypothetical
It’s one thing, though, to argue that the Steelers received great value based on where they selected Pickett. It’s a whole other thing to claim Pickett should go first overall this year in what should be a much better quarterback draft class than 2022.
Gannon argued that Young and Stroud both have their question marks. He expressed his concern about Young’s durability while also questioning Stroud’s accuracy on the run.
Those concerns may seem minor next to Pickett, who still has a lot of developing to do too. But Gannon claimed that the Steelers appear to agree with him.
“Trust me, [the Steelers] were looking ahead to this year’s draft a year ago, and they felt really good about Kenny Pickett at 20,” said the 2002 NFL MVP.
Pickett posted a 7-5 record as a rookie starter in 2022. He also threw 7 touchdowns versus 9 interceptions while averaging 6.2 yards per pass with a 63.0% completion percentage.
Although those aren’t stellar stats, Pickett showed significant signs of improvement as the season went. In his final 224 pass attempts during his last eight games, he threw only 1 interception with 5 touchdowns.