Will Kenny Pickett or Mitch Trubisky start? Handicapping the Pittsburgh Steelers QB Competition – Pittsburgh Steelers Blog

PITTSBURGH — The last time the Pittsburgh Steelers had open quarterback competition, Jim Miller, Mike Tomczak and Kordell Stewart were vying for the job during the 1996 offseason.

Now, nearly three decades later, a new trio of challengers are gearing up to compete for the job. That judging begins this weekend when Kenny Pickett dresses up as the Steeler for the first time at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex for rookie minicamp.

With Ben Roethlisberger retired, the Steelers have spent their offseason retooling and recharging in an effort to find his replacement. After free agency and the NFL Draft, the Steelers walked away with three additions. Joining Mason Rudolph in the quarterback room will be Mitch Trubisky, Kenny Pickett and Chris Oladokun.

Realistically, seventh-round pick Oladokun isn’t in the running for the starting job, making it a three-way race. Will it be the rookie, free agent acquisition looking to turn things around, or the inside candidate trying to make a statement?

Kenny Pickett

NFL experience: Rookie

Why he’s lucky to be the starter: The Steelers don’t view their first-round pick as a developmental draft, which puts him firmly in the mix to be the Week 1 starter. After drafting Pickett, 24, with the 20th pick, Mike Tomlin has said the quarterback would have the opportunity to compete for the starting job, and Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert said Pickett’s decision to stay in college for another year was instrumental in his maturity and to its development.

In a Pittsburgh radio interview, Colbert compared Pickett’s final season at Pitt to a rookie season in the NFL.

“It’s almost like he spent his rookie season in the NFL at the college level and really mastered it,” Colbert told 105.9 The X. schematic. And it is easier to project these types of players and these patterns at our level. It’s not that others who play in a more college type offense can’t do it, it’s just more guesswork.

Pickett also has the advantage of reuniting with Matt Canada, who recruited him from Pitt. The two never worked together at the college level when Canada left for LSU, but Pickett knows Canada’s concepts and Canada clearly felt that Pickett was a fit for what they wanted to do.

why he is vulnerable: Pickett is a rookie. Yes, he’ll be within the friendly confines of Heinz Field and a city that embraced him during his college career, but the transition to the NFL is not to be underestimated. You have to adapt to the NFL defenses and the speed of the game, in addition to learning a new playbook.

But Whipple, who coached Pickett for three seasons at Pitt and worked with Roethlisberger as his quarterbacks coach in his first three seasons, thinks Pickett’s transition to the NFL won’t be as difficult as other rookies because he remains in a familiar environment. .

“I don’t know if it’s the easiest transition,” Whipple said, “but it might be a lot easier than Ben or other rookies I had in Cleveland.”



Ryan Clark weighs in on Mitchell Trubisky’s signing with the Steelers.

Mitch Trubisky

NFL experience: 5 years

Why he’s lucky to be the starter: The Steelers added Trubisky on the first day of free agency, working quickly to bring in the former No. 2 pick.

“He’s young and experienced,” Tomlin said in March. “He won – to be completely honest with you – he probably won more than anybody else who was sort of on the pitch.”

He spent the last year at Buffalo as a backup to Josh Allen and appeared in six games, completing 6 of 8 attempts for 43 yards and an interception. But he said this year in Buffalo was precious after a four-season stint in Chicago where he flourished in his second year before struggling in his last two.

Trubisky’s strength in this quarterback competition is his veteran experience and a skill set that fits well with Canada’s pattern.

why he is vulnerable: Trubisky hasn’t played significant minutes since 2020, and in his final season as a Chicago starter, he threw for 16 touchdowns for eight interceptions. He was also benched in Week 3 for Nick Foles, although Trubisky was eventually reinstated in Week 12. Still, he was inconsistent throughout his career with the Bears, and the work he has accomplished since has been largely out of sight. The Steelers won’t know for sure if the Jekyll-and-Hyde game is behind it until they have it on the field and in game situations.

Mason Rudolf

NFL experience: 4 years

Why he’s lucky to be the starter: With four seasons in the organization, Rudolph is the known quantity of the group. He has the benefit of having worked with Canada for two years, first as a positional coach and then as the Steelers’ offensive coordinator. After Roethlisberger retired, Rudolph spoke about having the opportunity to run the Steelers as he wanted, suggesting he’ll have more freedom to be himself with Roethlisberger gone.

why he is vulnerable: Since a tumultuous start to his Steelers career in 2019, when he was named starter after Roethlisberger’s season-ending elbow injury in Week 2, Rudolph has largely been an average-to-below quarterback. the average in punctual departures. His best outing came against the Browns in Week 17 of the 2020 season when he completed 22 of 39 attempts for 315 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in a loss. Rudolph got another shot in 2021, when Roethlisberger tested positive for COVID-19 less than 24 hours before the Steelers played the Detroit Lions, and Rudolph was thrust into the starting position again. This time he completed 30 of 50 attempts for 242 yards with a touchdown and an interception, and many throws were off target and inconsistent. He had a 26-yard run, showing the mobility the Steelers are looking for in their next flagman.

“Mason is 5-4-1 as a starter,” Colbert said in February. “One of those games this year, he found out he was going to be the starter on Saturday night, and he tried to give us what he could. We almost won that game, we didn’t. “So I’m comfortable that Mason has won more games than he’s lost as a starter. Where that can go, we’ll see. To be an NFL starter that you can win with, you have to prove it over 16 games, and I can’t wait to see that, if you do.

Ultimately, Rudolph is a useful quarterback, but Pickett and Trubisky have higher upsides and game-playing ability that puts them ahead of the competition.

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