After the 2021 NFL season, long-time Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger announced his retirement after an illustrious 17-year career. With all of Big Ben’s accomplishments and all that he has done for the team and for the city of Pittsburgh, his departure leaves enormous shoes to fill for the next starting quarterback heading into the 2022 season. In the Steelers quarterback room right now, there are three quarterbacks that will stake their claim as the new starting quarterback for this legendary franchise.
We have Mitch Trubisky, the former second overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft looking for another opportunity to become a starting quarterback in the NFL. We have Mason Rudolph, the backup who has the most experience in the Steelers system playing in 17 games in four years with Pittsburgh. Finally, that leaves the only first-round quarterback drafted in this past draft, Kenny Pickett, who played for the University of Pittsburgh, who ironically shares a field and practice facility with the Steelers. So, we will look at all three quarterbacks and make a prediction on who will be named the starting quarterback in week 1.
Trubisky was drafted in 2017 by the Chicago Bears. Highly criticized due to the two quarterbacks that were taken after him, but as a starting quarterback, he is not a bad quarterback and did not deserve the label of "draft bust". In his four seasons as a starter in Chicago, he had two seasons in which he threw for 3,000+ yards (2018 & 2019). Trubisky became the fastest quarterback in Bears history to eclipse 10,000 career passing yards, beating out Jim McMahon.
As a spot starter, Trubisky can start a few games for the Pittsburgh Steelers and at least you can get a win or two. His playoff record may be in question but he is 29-21 in his career as a starter. The conscience of the NFL media and the fans is to call him a bust due to his lack of success but he deserves another chance to at least be a competent starter to build for a future starter.
Let’s talk about the guy who knows what it means to be a backup for Pittsburgh, Mason Rudolph. The former Oklahoma State All-American, was drafted in the third round in the 2018 draft, a year after Trubisky was drafted. In four years with the Steelers, Rudolph has played in 17 games while starting in 10 of those games.
2019 was the best year of Rudolph’s career, after Ben Roethlisberger suffered a season-ending elbow injury. Rudolph started eight of ten games, threw for 1,765 yards, 13 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. Even though that season also had a certain Myles Garrett incident, Rudolph showed that he can be a quality backup when needed. Mason Rudolph will have an opportunity to prove the doubters wrong during training camp and preseason.
Now, we have the young rookie who is looking to making an impact in his first season in the NFL. Kenny Pickett had a successful career at the University of Pittsburgh, going 33-16, throwing for 12,303 yards with 81 touchdowns and 32 interceptions. In 2021, while leading the Pitt Panthers to an ACC Championship, he finished 3rd in the Heisman Trophy voting. He was the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, ACC Offensive Player of the year and Player of the year. Also, First Team All-ACC and First Team All-American honors was in this man’s trophy case in 2021 as well.
Pickett was the first quarterback taken in the 2022 NFL Draft, but was criticized because of his small hands. It seems like the media could not stop talking about Pickett’s hands after he was drafted by the Steelers. Well, if Pickett shows up in training camp and plays with a chip on his shoulder during the preseason, don’t be surprised if Kenny "Mr. Fake Slide" Pickett is named the starting quarterback come Week 1.
After all of the training camp talk and the preseason taking effect, coach Mike Tomlin will decide to start Mitch Trubisky in the early goings of the season. The season starts off with three playoff teams (Cincinnati, New England, and Buffalo). Most fans will give Trubisky at least until week 6 or 7 to give Pickett his first taste of NFL action. Pickett is a first-round pick, so it will be a lot of pressure on him to become the starter in his first year but the Steelers could ease the process and not let Pickett play at all this season.
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