Kenny Pickett Becoming the Steelers New QB1 Is ‘One to Watch’ According to NFL Insider Ian Rapoport

Despite a magical run to the postseason this year, the Pittsburgh Steelers are internally preparing for life after Ben Roethlisberger moving forward. The long-time Steelers starter turns 40 years old in early March, and his play has been steadily declining for quite some time.

If it weren’t for the newly implemented expanded playoff format, the Steelers wouldn’t have made the postseason, to begin with.

With that in mind, the Steelers are reportedly doing work behind the scenes to find their next franchise quarterback.

Kenny Pickett is ‘one to watch’ for the Steelers

The Steelers could go a few different ways to replace Big Ben. Veteran quarterbacks Derek Carr and Russell Wilson are likely going on the trade block this offseason, and there’s always a few stopgap-type options available in free agency. This year’s quarterback draft class isn’t the strongest. However, there are still a few names that are floating around the first-round conversation.

Matt Corall, Sam Howell, Malik Willis, and Kenny Pickett are all names to keep a close eye on.

Pickett, in particular, is a name that’s starting to gain some serious traction in Pittsburgh. According to NFL insider Ian Rapoport, Steelers fans should keep an extra close eye on the University of Pittsburgh product.

The team is also likely to add a quarterback in the draft, and though it’s not a talent-rich year at the position, there will be options. The University of Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett, who opted out of the Peach Bowl to prepare for the draft, is one to watch.

Of course, the Steelers will do a thorough evaluation of the position, but they share a facility with Pitt and have had an easy time doing homework on the 6-foot-3, 220-pound all-time leading passer in Pitt history. Given where they draft and where Pickett may end up, the interest is there.

Ian Rapoport, NFL.com

Kenny Pickett makes perfect sense

Kenny Pickett and Ben Roethlisberger.
Kenny Pickett and Ben Roethlisberger | Logan Whitton/Getty Images, Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The most glaring reason to connect Pickett to the Steelers is location. Pickett played his collegiate career at Pitt, and the Steelers have had ample time to scout and get to know the young gunslinger.

Beyond that, there are a few reasons Pickett-to-the-Steelers makes sense.

Right off the bat, Pickett is a mobile quarterback, something the Steelers haven’t employed in quite some time. As NFL defenses get faster and faster, offenses are finding a lot of success with QBs who can tuck and run on occasion. Pickett fits the description.

Additionally, Pickett allows the Steelers to restart their clock, to an extent. They’ve been hanging on to the last few years of Big Ben with little success. Building a more defined, long-term core around a young QB like Pickett gives the Steelers a chance at creating another dynasty, similar to what they had during the early years of Roethlisberger’s career.

Will the Steelers trade up for a rookie QB?

While the consensus around the NFL is that this year’s quarterback class isn’t perfect, QB-needy teams will undoubtedly jump at the opportunity to take a new starter in the top-10 or top-15. Teams like the Washington Football Team, Detroit Lions, and Denver Broncos could all use new quarterbacks.

This puts the Steelers in a situation where they may need to trade up to acquire their guy, Pickett. Trading up isn’t a tactic the Steelers typically employ. However, this year, it feels like a necessity (barring Pickett drastically falling on draft day).

If the Steelers are serious about starting the next chapter of their franchise building around a local, exciting kid like Pickett, they need to be aggressive in pursuing him.

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