The Pittsburgh Steelers can avoid the same old song and dance by allowing rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett to sashay his way into the starting lineup without any resistance from veteran Mitchell Trubisky.
Head coach Mike Tomlin can save his breath when considering the usage of any outdated cliches about how Pickett must earn the spot through a competition. Instead, the Steelers already said the quiet part out loud when it comes to how they view Pickett as a prospect. Spoiler alert: He's ready to play now.
"It's almost like he spent his rookie NFL season at the college level and really mastered it," former Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert, who selected Pickett with this year's 20th overall pick before retiring, said during an interview on Pittsburgh's 105.9 The X (h/t ESPN's Brooke Pryor). “Coach [Pat] Narduzzi and coach [Mark] Whipple provided him an opportunity to take that step in a pro schematic. And it is easier to project those types of players and those schematics to our level. It's not that the others that play in a more college-type offense can't do it—it's just more guesswork."
To be clear, all rookie quarterbacks face a learning curve. The difference lies in where they fall on the sliding scale of preparedness. A prospect such as Malik Willis, for example, fell much further behind on the developmental curve than most in his class. Whereas Pickett is seen as more mature in his readiness to take over an NFL offense.
Pickett is already 24 years old and spent the last three years with Whipple as his offensive coordinator, as Colbert noted. Whipple is a 42-year coaching veteran and previously worked with the Steelers and Cleveland Browns as quarterbacks coach during two of his stops. Pitt employed a system with pro-style concepts, which should make the transition a little less difficult.
"I don't know if it's the easiest transition," Whipple said, "but it's pretty much easier than maybe Ben [Roethlisberger] had it or other rookies that I had at Cleveland."
The Steelers made Pickett this year's QB1 and the only signal-caller to hear his name called during the first two rounds. The organization spent all offseason closely scrutinizing and evaluating the position. Pittsburgh was clearly in the quarterback market after attending all of the major pro days and landed on the individual who was already in its building for the last five years, albeit on the other side. He's now the face of the franchise.
Despite the obvious ending to this setup, the Steelers used the rookie as their third-string quarterback during organized team activities.