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Tomlin: Kenny Pickett has what it takes to start in Week 1

Following the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said Kenny Pickett could go straight in as starting quarterback.

Kenny Pickett at the NFL Combine
Justin Casterline

Following the retirement of long-serving quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, the position remains open at the Pittsburgh Steelers ahead of the new NFL season. To lend some stability to the quarterback roster at Heinz Field, Steelers general director Kevin Colbert prioritized a shot caller in the NFL Draft and recruited University of Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett in the first round with the 20th overall pick.

In an interview with NFL Network, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin revealed that Pickett could go straight in as a starter in Week 1. “He certainly has a chance,” Tomlin said. “I agree with that sentiment of his readiness from a professional perspective.”

Tomlin: We thought he had pro-level anticipation”

There is competition for the position, not least in the form of Mitchell Trubisky, who was brought in during free agency on a two-year deal and who has NFL experience after stints at the Chicago Bears and the Buffalo Bills. Also on the roster are Mason Rudolph and rookie Chris Oladukon, who was snapped up with the 241st draft pick.

Tomlin also laid out the two main reasons the Steelers had gone for Pickett at the top end of the draft. “It was two things that really attracted us to him from a floor standpoint,” the Steelers head coach said. “We thought he had pro-level anticipation. We thought he had pro-level accuracy. Often times, those are two variables that really require a lot of adjustment from a quarterbacking standpoint. We felt he came ready-made in those ways. Hopefully that’s an asset to him in terms of being able to compete and being ready, if his performance dictates it.”


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