Is Kenny Pickett's stock rising too high for the Pittsburgh Steelers to choose the Pittsburgh Panthers QB?

Kenny Pickett may be performing too well at the NFL Combine to fall to Pittsburgh at #20 in the NFL Draft.
Kenny Pickett may be performing too well at the NFL Combine to fall to Pittsburgh at #20 in the NFL Draft.

The Kenny Pickett homecoming story at the 2022 NFL Draft may just be too good to be true.

With the twentieth pick, the Pittsburgh Steelers are hoping to select Kenny Pickett to replace Ben Roethlisberger, who had been their quarterback for the last 18 years.

They may not get that chance, though. Kenny Pickett believes he will be the first QB to be selected on April 28, the first day of the three-day NFL Draft.

This is what he said to Adam Breneman on Breneman Shows Up regarding whether or not he should be the first QB taken in the draft:

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“I think so. I think there’s a lot of reasons for it. You look at the game now and how it’s changing. . . . I’m a mobile guy that [played] in a West Coast pro-style system. I started at a program that was 5-7 the first year I was in. We left as ACC champions, 11-2. So I know how to win. I know the process it takes to get there. It’s never an easy thing, and I’ll make that transition, I feel like, faster in the NFL now because [of] that experience . . . that I know how to go about my business as a pro, kind of being an older guy. At the end of the day, that’s what . . . coming around to the position, it’s like, ‘Can you win? Do you know how to handle all the things it takes to be a quarterback?’ I definitely do. So I think I am QB1.”
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When it comes to possible options for Kenny Pickett and the rest of the 2022 QB class, the Carolina Panthers, Seattle Seahawks, and Houston Texans represent the most logical landing spots.

The Panthers haven't re-signed Cam Newton (perhaps signaling a second split with "Superman") and could use a superior passer to Sam Darnold. NBC Sports Columnist Peter King sees the Panthers taking Pickett with the No. 6 pick:

“When Matt Rhule was the Temple head coach in the spring of 2016, he sealed the deal with top QB recruit Kenny Pickett from south Jersey. When Rhule took the Baylor job, Pickett de-committed and went to Pitt … and made the most of his opportunity there. You just get the sense the Panthers aren’t sold on Sam Darnold and are desperate for an upgrade. Drafting Pickett (2021: 67-percent passer, 42 TDs, seven interceptions) is no sure thing, at all. But the Panthers are still searching at quarterback, and Pickett would give them hope.”

Seattle, meanwhile, needs to pick up the pieces following the Russell Wilson trade. Truthfully, it'd be in Seattle's best interest to go for Malik Willis instead, assuming they want things to change as little as possible and want to maintain a run-heavy offensive scheme from under center.

Houston is an intriguing scenario because they should hunt for a Davis Mills upgrade, but might not be willing to. New Texans coach Lovie Smith loves Mills, though, saying he played as well as any 2021 rookie QB. Okay then.

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Carolina and Seattle should be in the market for whoever is available and internally preferred between Kenny Pickett and Malik Willis. If those franchises invest in the future of the QB position, that could leave Pittsburgh without the opportunity to bring Pickett back to the Steel City.

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