Steelers cross the Pickett line
The Steelers drafted local hero Kenny Pickett in the first round. Though not the world’s greatest quarterback guru, I question that pick on a number of levels. First, the Steelers already signed Mitchell Trubisky, who made the Pro Bowl in Chicago, and then got the blame when things went wrong on a team that was depleted of draft picks. He still had an above-.500 record as a starter.
The problems with the Bears may have been the fault of management, not the quarterback. Trubisky is probably a good quarterback, but he may or may not represent a true upgrade over future Hall of Famer Ben Roethlisberger.
Let’s get serious. I’ve made fun of Big Ben over the years, comparing him to a water buffalo and accusing him of throwing wounded duck passes, but that is just rivalry stuff. The truth is that was the most formidable opponent the Browns have ever faced, and even in his last season he was dangerous. So Myles, Denzel and the gang are not quaking in fear about having to potentially face big, bad Kenny Pickett next season. He might not be the best quarterback on the team.
Moreover, Pickett is two years older than the typical age for a first-round pick at quarterback, and a little out of the zone. He will be 24 when the season starts, only one year younger than Lamar Jackson will be. If he had been judged for his body of work at age 22, no one would have thought to draft him in an early round.
He’s not a living fossil like Brandon Weeden at age 28, but he’s further along in his trajectory and may not improve as much as some others. It is doubtful whether he really upgrades the Steelers, particularly if they elect to rush him into the starter’s role immediately.
Adding WR George Pickens in the second round was more significant. They also added 5-foot-8 170-pound Calvin Austin III from Memphis to play in the slot. Together, they may counteract the losses of JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, and Ray-Ray McCloud.
Adding Connor Heyward, a halfback who also plays tight end will help to distribute the workload for Najee Harris.
They also provide help for the defensive line by drafting Texas A&M’s DeMarvin Leal in Round 3, 84th overall.
So, will anyone block for these guys? The Steelers remain very thin on the offensive line. Roethlisberger has helped them out by unloading the football in under three seconds, but they didn’t do a good job pass blocking and they did not run block for Najee Harris all that well, either.
The Steelers’ offensive line has fallen into disrepair the past few years, and they did not add depth from the draft. They did sign two free agents for the OL in guard James Daniels from the Bears, and center Mason Cole from Minnesota.
Round 1, Pick No. 20: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
Round 2, Pick No. 52: George Pickens, WR, Georgia
Round 3, Pick No. 84: DeMarvin Leal, Texas A&M
Round 4, Pick No. 138: Calvin Austin III, Memphis
Round 6, Pick No. 208: Connor Heyward, RB/TE Michigan State
Round 7, Pick No. 225: Mark Robinson, LB, Mississippi
Round 7, Pick No. 241: Chris Oladokun, South Dakota State
As for the Bengals, they were given poor draft position by virtue of making it to the Super Bowl. They managed to further bungle their way into have only six picks instead of seven and probably reached in Round 2.