The Steelers should have a quarterback competition on their hands.
After spending a first-round pick on local product Kenny Pickett, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin told NFL Network that the Heisman Trophy finalist “certainly has a chance” to be the Week 1 starter in Pittsburgh.
“It was two things that really attracted us to him from a floor standpoint,” Tomlin said. “We thought he had pro-level anticipation. We thought he had pro-level accuracy. Oftentimes, 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.”
The competition will be between Pickett and Mitchell Trubisky, both of whom are new to the Steelers following Ben Roethlisberger’s retirement. Mason Rudolph could be in the mix as well.
Pickett is at least intimately familiar with Heinz Field, having played home games there with Pitt in college. He threw for 4,319 yards and 42 touchdowns with the Panthers last season, leading them to an ACC title before sitting out in the Peach Bowl — in which Pitt lost to Michigan State.
“One of the things that was very evident about Kenny being next door is he’s just a ridiculous competitor,” Tomlin said. “So we’re just excited about putting him in the mix and watching him compete against Mitch and Mason and seeing where that leads us.”
Tomlin said Pickett’s professionalism is a sign of his readiness. He was the only quarterback taken before the third round of the draft when Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder went to Atlanta.
“There’s comfort but there’s a job at hand and I know what I have to do,” Pickett told reporters. “I know how to go about my business so I’m really excited to be here.”