Steelers rumors: Why Kenny Pickett might not be Ben Roethlisberger’s replacement

Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback Kenny Pickett (8): (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)
Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback Kenny Pickett (8): (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports) /

Despite a phenomenal senior season in their own backyard, the Steelers reportedly aren’t targeting Kenny Pickett as Ben Roethlisberger’s heir-apparent.

Next year’s quarterback class is notoriously weak, and it’s worth questioning if a QB of Pickett’s caliber would even make it to the Steelers’ draft position, especially if they finish near .500 as is custom for a Mike Tomlin-coached team.

However, if both players were available, the Steelers would reportedly prefer North Carolina’s Sam Howell to Pickett, despite some terming Howell a “poor man’s Mitchell Trubisky,” as compared to the Pitt product, who is in the Heisman conversation.

Pickett plays in the ACC Championship on Saturday night, with yet another opportunity to impress NFL scouts. However, these two players competed just a few weeks back in Pittsburgh in a monsoon, with Pickett coming away the victor.

Steelers reportedly prefer Sam Howell to Kenny Pickett

Per Rich Walsh of CBS Pittsburgh, the Steelers would rather draft Howell than Pickett, and Pittsburgh GM Kevin Colbert was just one of the front office executives in attendance for their mid-November tilt.

In that game, Pickett completed 25-of-43 passes for 346 yards and three touchdowns, while Howell has two scores through the air, and another on the ground.

On the season, Pickett had over 4,000 yards passing, 40 passing touchdowns and just seven interceptions entering the ACC Championship. Howell, meanwhile, has sub-3,000 yards passing and 23 touchdowns, but over 800 yards rushing and 11 scores on the ground.

Howell has more mobility and could be useful in a Matt Canada-coached offense. Pickett is almost universally agreed upon as the better pro prospect. If Colbert drafts Roethlisberger’s heir-apparent based on system fit for a (soon to be) second-year OC, then the Steelers have even greater problems.

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