2022 NFL Draft: Grades for Kenny Pickett and Every Other Pittsburgh Steelers Pick

The Ben Roethlisberger era is over, and the Pittsburgh Steelers entered Thursday night’s portion of the draft needing to make a crucial decision: Should they target one of the 2022 NFL Draft’s top-end signal-callers at No. 20 overall, wait to address the position until later in the proceedings, or push back the acquisition of the next face of the franchise for at least another year? 

By this point, you probably know what ended up happening.

But while the void left by Big Ben is the obvious leading storyline, especially because of the uncertainty tied to Mitchell Trubisky, it’s far from the only trouble spot on the Pittsburgh roster. 

If the Steelers want to keep their two-year playoff streak alive (and finally make it past the Wild Card Round for the first time since 2017), they also need to give whoever is under center upgrades along the offensive line and a better stable of pass-catchers. On the defensive side, cornerback was the obvious need to support a unit that regressed significantly in 2021.

2022 NFL Draft picks by Pittsburgh Steelers

  • No. 20 Overall: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
  • No. 52 Overall: George Pickens, WR, Georgia
  • No. 84 Overall: DeMarvin Leal, DT, Texas A&M
  • No. 138 Overall: Calvin Austin III, WR, Memphis
  • No. 208 Overall: Connor Heyward, FB/TE, Michigan State
  • No. 225 Overall: Mark Robinson, LB, Ole Miss
  • No. 241 Overall: Chris Oladokan, QB, South Dakota State

No. 20 Overall: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh

Pitt QB Kenny Pickett is the Pittsburgh Steelers draft pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Pittsburgh Steeler quarterback Kenny Pickett | Mike Calendrillo/Sportscasting

The Pittsburgh Steelers could have set themselves up for long-term success with Malik Willis still on the board, but they took Kenny Pickett instead. The Pitt signal-caller has good NFL size at 6-foot-3, 217-pounds, and even with his 8½-inch hands, he looks like a pro QB. His production last year was great, too, with 4,319 passing yards, 42 touchdowns, and just seven interceptions. Here’s the thing, though. Pickett didn’t break out until his senior season, and he was a 23-year-old man playing against kids. His ceiling is Derek Carr, and his floor is former Dallas Cowboys QB Brandon Weeden. Pickett is most likely Matt Schaub or Andy Dalton, and that’s not worthy of the No. 20 overall pick.

Grade: D

No. 52 Overall: George Pickens, WR, Georgia

Despite falling from a potential first-round spot, George Pickens used his healthy showings at Georgia to show just how explosive he was down the field. He’s explosive off the line and high-points balls in the air to display a large catch radius, and that should make him an immediate contributor for a Steelers squad that needed a high-upside receiving option alongside Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool with JuJu Smith-Schuster no longer in the picture.

Grade: A+

No. 84 Overall: DeMarvin Leal, DT, Texas A&M

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back making Steelers-style picks after taking Kenny Pickett in Round 1. The 6-foot-4, 284-pound DeMarvin Leal is a perfect fit as a 3-4 DE in the NFL. He had 8.5 sacks last season in college and will be able to push the pocket at the pro level. Leal will look right at home on the D-line in the Steel City.

Grade: A

Day 3 Picks

No. 138 Overall: Calvin Austin III, WR, Memphis

Austin is seriously small at just 5-foot-8, 170-pounds but he can fly with a 4.32-second 40-yard dash time. While I didn’t like the Kenny Pickett pick, the Steelers are committing to giving him weapons which is a smart plan. Pittsburgh should find a creative role for this little speed-burner who has more outside WR skills than most his size. Plus, it’s a solid pick for his punt return ability alone.

Grade: A

No. 208 Overall: Connor Heyward, FB/TE, Michigan State

Connor is the son of former NFL RB Craig “Ironhead” Heyward and brother of Steelers star Cam Heyward. Connor played RB and H-back and Michigan State and can catch and run from multiple positions. He’s a Steelers-type of player and one who could become a unique and versatile weapon for the team.

Grade: A

No. 225 Overall: Mark Robinson, LB, Ole Miss

Robinson played running back at two small schools before transferring to Ole Miss to play linebacker. He’s incredibly raw but is an excellent athlete. He’s likely a practice squad guy in 2022 but could develop into a player in the Steelers system.

Grade: C

No. 241 Overall: Chris Oladukon, QB, South Dakota State

It’s not a bad call to pick a second QB in the same draft when a team is looking for a franchise signal-caller (see RGIII and Kirk Cousins). The only problem with this is that guys like Skylar Thomson and Carson Strong would have been better picks.

Grade: C

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Related: Terry Bradshaw Doesn’t Believe He Should Have Been the 1970 NFL Draft’s No. 1 Overall Pick