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Mike Tomlin: Kenny Pickett 'certainly has a chance' to be Steelers' Week 1 starting QB

The Pittsburgh Steelers will enter the next phase of the offseason with two first-round quarterbacks on their roster -- Mitchell Trubisky (Chicago Bears, 2017) and Kenny Pickett (Steelers, Thursday). Though Trubisky, a newcomer to Pittsburgh after stays in Chicago and Buffalo, has more NFL experience, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is not ruling out the possibility that the Steelers' latest Round 1 pick could be QB1 come September.

"He certainly has a chance (to be our Week 1 starter)," Tomlin said of Pickett to NFL Network's Rich Eisen during Saturday's coverage of the 2022 NFL Draft. "I agree with that sentiment of his readiness from a professional perspective."

Pickett, a Pitt product, was the only quarterback selected in the first round of the draft, going to the Steelers, a franchise with which he was already close to (literally), with the 20th overall selection.

Typically in today's NFL, first-round quarterbacks are given the opportunity to win the starting job out of the gate, if they're not already anointed; last season, of the five quarterbacks selected in the first round, only Trey Lance and Justin Fields sat Week 1, and only Lance started fewer than 10 games. The road to the starting gig is especially easier if there is no bona fide veteran already on the roster. Trubisky, though he started for four years in Chicago, is no Aaron Rodgers, or even Alex Smith.

Also in Pickett's pocket are his age and attributes. The soon-to-be 24-year-old was considered the most pro-ready quarterback and the safest signal-caller selection in the entire class, a feeling which with Tomlin concurs.

"It was two things that really attracted us to him from a floor standpoint," Tomlin explained. "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."

Plug-and-play Pickett has a nice ring to it and could very much be the case for the rookie. Already familiar with the city and the facility, which the Steelers share with Pickett's Panthers, the QB told reporters Friday during his introductory press conference that he's already spoken with Trubisky, with whom he already has a relationship, and Mason Rudolph, soon to be his competitors, but, for now, his compatriots in black and gold.

"Two great guys. I'm really looking forward to working with them," Pickett said. " ... There's comfort but there's a job at hand and I know what I have to do. I know how to go about my business so I'm really excited to be here."

Pickett's not the only one in the Steel City ready for the QB competition to begin and for the rookie from Pitt to seize the starting role.

"One of the things that was very evident about Kenny being next door is he's just a ridiculous competitor," said Tomlin, "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."

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