Steelers ‘Desperate’ to Land New Franchise QB: Analyst

Kenny Pickett

Getty The Steelers might not have their franchise QB in Kenny Pickett.

The Pittsburgh Steelers may soon be looking for another franchise quarterback.

According to Bleacher Report’s Brent Sobleski, the Steelers are one of several teams in the NFL that are “desperate” to land a franchise quarterback. As Sobleski notes, Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud and University of Alabama’s Bryce Young are the top passers in the 2023 NFL draft. Despite selecting Kenny Pickett in the first round of the 2022 NFL draft, Sobleski argues that the selection of Pickett shouldn’t preclude Pittsburgh from taking another highly-ranked quarterback prospect.

“Stroud and Young are superior options compared to Pickett,” says Sobleski. “Not only are they both more talented than him, but they’re also much younger. Pickett will turn 25 in June. Stroud and Young are both 21. The Steelers can’t fall victim to sunk-cost fallacy and pass on either of them just because they already have Pickett on their roster. The NFL’s most stable franchise might have a chance to acquire an elite prospect at the game’s most important position.”


Pickett Has Failed to Impress in Rookie Season

The Steelers selected Pickett with the intention he’d be the team’s franchise quarterback. However, it’s worth noting that Pickett was the first quarterback selected in a weak class at the position. In fact, not only was the University of Pittsburgh product the only quarterback selected in the first round, there wasn’t another QB picked in the draft until Malik Willis with the 98th selection in the third round of the 2022 NFL draft.

While it’s true that this is Pickett’s rookie season, he has had a rough debut. The 24-year-old has started four games this season and has thrown two touchdowns versus eight interceptions. His propensity for turnovers actually has Pickett leading the league in interception percentage (4.8 percent) and his 66.8 passer rating ranks him dead last among all quarterbacks — the New York Jets‘ Zack Wilson is the next worst-ranked quarterback at a 75.5 passer rating.


Would Steelers Select QB With First Pick in Draft?

There are certainly questions on whether or not Pickett can actually be the team’s franchise quarterback for many years to come. But the question is, will Pittsburgh go two consecutive years drafting a quarterback in the first round?

The 2-6 Steelers are currently slotted for the fourth pick in the 2022 NFL draft. However, they could reasonably finish with the top overall pick. The last time Pittsburgh finished with a top five overall pick was when they selected Terry Bradshaw No. 1 overall in the 1970 NFL draft.

According to other mock drafts, the Steelers will go with another position of need if they end up with a high draft selection in the first round. According to CBS Sports’ Josh Edwards, Pittsburgh is projected to take another Crimson Tide product — edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. — with the No. 1 overall selection.

Edwards argues that the Steelers are actually a “prime trade candidate” looking to make a deal with a team in need of selecting a quarterback in the draft. He says if they end up with the top pick, they stay and end up selecting the defensive standout — rather than a quarterback like Stroud or Young.

“Pittsburgh is a prime trade candidate for a team looking to move up for a quarterback,” says Edwards. “It is a year in which multiple teams in need of a quarterback have two first-round picks. The Steelers can afford to slide back, acquire some additional draft capital and still land one of the elite defensive talents or an offensive tackle. If they stick and pick, Anderson is quite the consolation prize.”

The Steelers will undoubtedly finish with one of the worst — if not the worst — records in the league this season. That means they’ll garner a top pick in next year’s draft.

They’ll be forced to make a decision — draft a highly-touted QB prospect such as Stroud or Young, or continue to stick with Pickett moving forward.

 

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