Steelers Insiders ‘Worried’ About QB Kenny Pickett: ‘He Looks Way Behind’

Kenny Pickett

Justin Casterline/Getty Images Quarterback Kenny Pickett during the NFL Combine on March 3, 2022.

On Saturday, August 13, the Pittsburgh Steelers will host the Seattle Seahawks at Acrisure Stadium in the preseason opener for both teams. And if you believe at least one particular member of the Pittsburgh sports media, 2022 first-round pick Kenny Pickett may be held out of the game entirely.

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Kenny Pickett ‘May Not Be Ready’ for Preseason Action

“Pickett isn’t close to being ready. In fact, I’m told he may not be ready to play exhibitions yet. That’s how shaky they feel he has looked in camp,” Mark Madden told Tim Benz during TribLive’s “Madden Monday” podcast on August 8.

Meanwhile, projected starter Mitch Trubisky hasn’t looked particularly good in camp, either, according to The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly.

“Trubisky needs reps,” added Madden. “If you made me predict right now what the division of duty will be in the exhibition game on Saturday — the first preseason game — I’d say Trubisky and Rudolph each play half, and Pickett maybe gets a series.”

Madden said he believed the most sensible approach would be to start fourth-year Steeler Mason Rudolph during the early part of the regular season.

“You know he can play a little,” he said, referring to Rudolph’s 5-4-1 career record as a starter. Madden also acknowledged that the fan base would be unhappy if using Rudolph is direction the Steelers choose to go.

“The great unwashed here in Pittsburgh have long since decided that they don’t like Mason Rudolph, but he’s having the best camp and has the most experience in the offense,” noted Madden, before adding, “What would be wrong with Rudolph starting the first game — maybe starting the first couple — while Trubisky catches up on the learning curve?”


Madden & Benz ‘Worried’ About Kenny Pickett

“I’m worried about Pickett, though,” added Madden. “Tim, you’ve been there, you tell me. The people I talk to tell me he looks way behind. Way behind. Not that he is going to be terrible forever, not that he can’t be their quarterback for the long term when the long term gets here. But like, way behind — as in no chance of playing this year.”

Benz agreed with Madden’s assessment.

“From what I saw, up until this week it wasn’t even functional. Like, you couldn’t even tell what the offense was supposed to be doing, and I don’t know if that was mainly [Rudolph], all because of him, circumstances beyond him. I think this past week — later in the week, after he got some reps with the 2s and it looked like the second-team offense was ahead of the second-team defense — he looked like he at least belonged.

“I hear they hesitate to even play him in the first exhibition,” added Madden, before Benz made an excuse for Pickett’s struggles.

“I think that might have a lot to do with the third-string offensive line because it is apparently not functional. These are third-string Steelers defensive linemen they are going against and they are getting housed on a regular basis,” he said.

“It’s always something. … I want to hear excuses why things are going right, not why they are going wrong,” offered Madden.

“Here’s what I’ve heard about Pickett that is a little surprising to me,” concluded Benz, summing up the exchange. “His issues weren’t about him getting the verbiage out of his mouth, it’s not getting the team in and out of the huddle, it’s not knowledge of the playbook or the offense. It’s he’s having a very difficult time dealing with the speed of the game and not putting much air under the ball when he throws deep and knowing how quickly the ball needs to come out and the quickness of the reads. All of these things we thought he would be ahead of the curve on than the average quarterback. He is not.”

All that being said, if Pickett stays a firm No. 3 on the depth chart, that would seem to reduce the chances that the Steelers try to trade Mason Rudolph prior to the start of the regular season, despite Rudolph being viewed as “attractive” trade bait, according to the Post-Gazette’s Ray Fittipaldo in June.

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Sid Mcguire
Sid Mcguire
1 month ago

WELL, IT’S NOT LIKE THEY DIDN’T KNOW, , , ,THIS WAS A “WEAK” QB CLASS, WHAT BOTHERS ME IS THEY COULD HAVE DRAFTED (WILLIS) WHO THEY CONTINUELY SAID HAD A HIGHER CIELING AND THEY WERE IMPRESSED WITH???? I HATE TO PLAY THE RACE CARD BUT I DON’T THINK THE ROONEY’S WANT A BLACK QB, , , ,THEY COULD’VE HAD LAMAR, BUT PASSED ON HIM. AND THE WORSE PART IS THEY DON’T HAVE “ANY” QB’S THAT LOOK LIKE THEY COULD CARRY THE TEAM (THROUGH) THE PLAYOFFS, , ,WITH ALL THE ADDITIONS I WAS REALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO A 10-7 SEASON. IT’S PRETTY CLEAR THAT THE QB POSITION IS GONNA HOLD US BACK FOR YEARS TO COME:(

Matthew Biss
Matthew Biss
1 month ago
Reply to  Sid Mcguire

Well, it didn’t take long to prove this to be the most ridiculously stupid comment I’ve read in quite some time.

A) there was no consensus that Willis was the better player with the higher ceiling. Teams lie all the time about who they like in the draft. Willis played at Liberty! Not exactly a powerhouse playing against quality opponents.

B) why would we have ever drafted Lamar?! Furthermore, why would we want him? We already have a stud running back and Lamar hasn’t accomplished anything.

C) Are you really accusing the Rooneys of racism!!! There literally was a tule created called “the Rooney Rule”! While it has had questionable success, it was designed to help minorities break into NFL coaching by providing them with the experience of interviewing for positions. Mike Tomlin has been the head coach for 16 years….you might have noticed….he’s black. They’ve also drafted or signed qbs such as Dixon, Dobbs, Martin, and Batch….also all black.

Shame on you, Sid, for your terrible, in educated take. And shame on the author of this article, Jason Zasky for ever taking a thing that mark madden wrote and giving it credence. Madden is a well known pot stirrer who is never held accountable for his terrible takes on Pittsburgh sports. Be better you cabbages.

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