Steelers: Kenny Pickett far from a guarantee to play in preseason games

Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh Steelers. (Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)
Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh Steelers. (Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports) /

Steelers first-round draft pick, Kenny Pickett, is so far behind that he may not even be ready to compete in the team’s first preseason game on Saturday.

The 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers were supposed to bridge the gap from last year’s disappointing playoff appearance into a promising life after Ben Rothlisberger. The key ingredient to crossing that bridge — the singular uncontested necessity for success in the NFL — a good quarterback, seems to be missing from the equation thus far in camp.

Mitchell Trubisky was brought to town in free agency to hopefully offer a better option than the Steelers already unproven backup, Mason Rudolph, and Kenny Pickett was selected with the 20th-overall pick in this year’s draft. Unfortunately for Steelers fans, none of the aforementioned have had any semblance of success to this point. The assumed future face of the franchise, Pickett, may not even be ready for preseason competition.

Legendary Pittsburgh radio personality and columnist for TRIBlive, Mark Madden, said in a podcast over the weekend that Kenny Pickett’s learning curve is so steep, that he may not be prepared to take the field for Saturday’s preseason matchup with the Seahawks.

"“Pickett just 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”"

To have a first-rounder, a top-20 pick nonetheless, be so far behind on the offense that he can’t compete in the preseason is brutal. There’s no other way to slice the situation. The lone redeeming note in Pickett’s defense is that he’s had very little opportunity to work with first-team offensive weapons. Building a career on a bed of excuses likely wont make for a bed of roses in the end, but this reality at least buys him some time.

Kenny Pickett appears unprepared for Steelers preseason competition

Diontae Johnson took the hold-in approach to leverage an extension, and tight end Pat Freiermuth, running back Najee Harris, and wide receiver Chase Claypool have all missed significant amounts of the Steelers’ training camp so far. Plugging each of the team’s most significant skill players for reps would likely help Pickett’s case to improve.

It is also tough to judge Mitch Trubisky’s success in practice against first-team defense without those weapons. However, Matt Verderame pointed out in his most recent column that Mitch Trubisky had an 0-for-16 stretch at the goal line in Seven drill. While that is nearly impossible to justify, the lack of legitimate starters in the “first-team” at Steelers practice has an affect on those outcomes.

We will see soon enough whether or not Kenny Pickett will get any reps in the Steelers’ first exhibition on Saturday. No matter how it pans out, there is a long road ahead for the rookie and Steelers Nation alike.

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