by J.T. Toth
Photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated.
With the Pittsburgh Steelers about to begin play in 2023, Draft 412 will review each position, its depth and potential.
Today, the Steelers' quarterback group goes on the clock:
QB 1: Kenny Pickett - 6’3” 220 lbs.
Kenny Pickett was drafted in 2022 with the 20th overall pick out of Pitt, and was the first QB off the board. In a draft that was not quarterback heavy, the Steelers did their due diligence on a pivotal piece of the rebuild puzzle—one who practiced right next door at the Panthers' facility.
Pickett started the season as a backup to Mitch Trubisky and did not see the field until week 4 in the second half against the New York Jets. He ended the season playing in 13 games and passed for 2,404 yards with 7 touchdowns and 9 interceptions.
In his last 7 games of the season, Pickett saw marked improvement and threw for 5 TD’s and only 1 interception, paired with 1,243 yards and an 84.6 passer rating. These stats still aren’t “elite” by any means, but they are strong numbers for a rookie QB playing down the stretch in “must win” games.
In the offseason, Pickett put in the work to improve and the results on the practice fields in Latrobe are evident. He’s added weight and is throwing the ball harder, but hasn’t seemed to lose any of his accuracy. The added time and reps with weapons like WR George Pickens, Calvin Austin, Diontae Johnson and newly acquired Allen Robinson will serve to only help him continue to mature into his starting role. With the flashes he showed at the end of last year, Pickett is poised for a breakout this season.
QB 2: Mitchell Trubisky - 6’2” 220 lbs.
Going into this season, veteran Mitch Trubisky will likely be the number two quarterback for the Steelers. The team signed Trubisky before last season to a two year deal. He was drafted 2nd overall by the Chicago Bears back in 2017 and never lived up to the lofty expectations, but the Steelers' front office still saw some potential.
He started the season as QB 1 but was replaced by Kenny Pickett after just four games. Trubisky failed to show any consistency in his time under center and had trouble getting the offense to click. His role will be as a dependable backup a veteran presence behind Pickett.
QB 3: Mason Rudolph - 6’5” 235 lbs.
Rudolph enters the year as the third string quarterback, bringing serviceable depth to an already deep QB room. He has gotten chances to prove himself throughout his brief career with the Steelers but has been proven more of a depth piece than a starter. He tested the open market in the Spring before returning to the Steelers.
Rudolph has been with the Steelers since 2018 when the team drafted him in the 3rd round out of Oklahoma State. As a backup, he knows the system well and is another veteran presence for Pickett. He could be a trade piece during the season for a team starving for some quarterback depth.
QB 4: Tanner Morgan - 6’2” 215 lbs.
Morgan was signed this year by the Steelers out of Minnesota after going undrafted in the 2023 NFL Draft. He likely won’t make the 53-man roster when the season kicks off but with a strong camp, he could make the practice squad or get signed by another team.
DRAFT 412 Analysis
Starter Kenny Pickett is the future of this team. He’s worked tirelessly in the offseason to add weight and strength and appears ready to take the next step in his development. If he proves up to the task and improves on year one, the Steelers may be ready to climb back into the AFC playoff discussion.