Its three candidates to start under centre are Mitchell Trubisky, Mason Rudolph and rookie Kenny Pickett. All three quarterbacks had their moments in the team’s Week 1 preseason victory over the Seattle Seahawks.
Trubisky finished with 63 passing yards and one touchdown on 4-for-7 passing. Rudolph had 93 passing yards and one touchdown on 9-for-15 passing. And in his NFL debut, Pickett finished with 95 passing yards and two touchdowns on 13-for-15 passing.
“I watched Kenny Pickett, and I was like ‘I don’t really see the ‘it’ quality there, but I was like ‘alright, that was pretty good, that’s pretty comfortable’,” Cowherd said. “‘Sometimes when you watch these young quarterbacks, the thing I really look for is do they look like they belong? You’re not going to be able to tell for a lot of guys. Do they feel like they belong? And I looked at Kenny Pickett, and I’m like ‘he’s got a low ceiling maybe, but he felt like he did.’ So, that’s good news for Pittsburgh.
“Now, do I think in his rookie year he’d be better than Burrow, Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson? No, and he may never be. But, boy, I’m looking at Mason Rudolph, Mitch Trubisky and Kenny Pickett. I got to be honest with you. They may all have a low ceiling: I’m not sure I wouldn’t go with the kid. It’s one sample, but I don’t know. You saw it. I saw it. Easy thrower, comfortable, accurate, lot of college starts. I think I might roll with him. I really do.”
Pittsburgh selected Pickett with the No. 20 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft out of Pittsburgh. Pickett finished the 2021 college football season with 4,319 passing yards, 42 touchdowns, seven interceptions and a 165.3 quarterback rating while completing 67.2% of his passes. He also logged 241 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns. Pickett finished third in Heisman Voting.
Pittsburgh inked Trubisky, who served as the Buffalo Bills’ backup quarterback last season and the Chicago Bears’ primary quarterback from 2017-20, to a two-year, $14.3 million deal. Meanwhile, Rudolph has started 10 games for the Steelers over his four-year NFL career.
The Steelers went 9-7-1 last season, good for second in the AFC North, but lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in the wild-card round. Their offence completed 64% of its passes (22nd in NFL), averaged 222.2 passing yards per game (15th), totalled 23 passing touchdowns (tied for 16th), 11 interceptions (tied for seventh fewest), 9.5 yards per completion (last) and an 85.3 passer rating (24th).
Pittsburgh faces the Jacksonville Jaguars on the road in its Week 2 preseason game on Aug. 20.