Lady Luck appears to be smiling on the side of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Months after Ben Roethlisberger wrapped up an 18-year-career, the Steelers employ a former Pro Bowl quarterback and the first quarterback selected in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Pittsburgh's good fortune didn't appear to be lost on Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert. The Steelers coach and general manager did not hide their excitement upon selecting former Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett with the 20th overall pick. It marked the first time this century that a draft had lasted that long before a quarterback had been picked.
"Honestly," Colbert told the media Thursday night, "I never thought he would make it to us."
Nearly as surprising as Pickett being available that late in the draft was how quickly the team came to terms with Mitchell Trubisky, who agreed to terms on a multiyear deal mere hours into into the league's legal tampering period. Along with Pickett and Trubisky, the Steelers quarterback room also includes Mason Rudolph, who has five years and 10 starts worth of experience with the Steelers. All three players will compete to be the Steelers' starting quarterback coming out of training camp.
"They both reached out," Pickett said of Trubisky and Rudolph. "Two great guys. I'm really looking forward to working with them."
Pickett was asked if he is embracing the prospect of being an immediate starter at the next level.
"Any competitor, absolutely," he said. "But I know how to be a great teammate. I know how to go about my business. I'm really excited to learn from those guys, like I said. All great people in the building. That's something I've known since I've been at Pitt. I'm excited to be a part of this organization, and compete and work toward winning a championship."
Trubisky and Rudolph reaching out to Pickett enforced what Tomlin said Thursday when asked about handling the acquisition of Pickett with his incumbent quarterbacks.
"It's really nothing to handle," Tomlin said. "Those guys are competitors. We're in a competitive business. They understand that. They understand that we're building the construction of the team to win. I'm sure they're excited about having the opportunity to put their skills on display."
Fresh off of leading the Panthers to the school's first ACC title, Pickett will join an offensive huddle in Pittsburgh that includes several young, talented players in receivers Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool, running back Najee Harris, and tight end Pat Freiermuth. Pittsburgh, which signed offensive linemen James Daniels and Mason Cole during free agency, is expected to select a receiver and offensive tackle during the draft's final two days.
"It's really exciting," Pickett said of the Steelers' offense. "There's a long list of great players here. I'm excited to get involved and meet those guys, learn what they do really well, and like I said, help us win a championship here."