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Mike Tomlin: Kenny Pickett Loves Football, ‘Comfortable with Responsibility’

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Kenny Pickett Mike Tomlin

Mike Tomlin went on former Pittsburgh Steelers’ defensive back Ike Taylor’s web show ‘Bleav in Steelers’ on Friday to talk about his legacy, his players and Steelers’ first-round pick Kenny Pickett.

“His tape, said enough,” said Tomlin on Pickett.

Tomlin only spoke briefly about the on-the-field qualities that Pickett brought in. Pickett comes to the Steelers after starting for four seasons at quarterback for the University of Pittsburgh football team. Pickett was an average, at best, quarterback statiscally prior to last season when he took off and finished third in the Heismann voting. Pickett had a 39-25 touchdown to interception ratio from 2017-20 before putting together an outstanding 42-7 ratio last year. He also threw a school-record 4,319 yards with a 67.2% completion percentage.

But as Tomlin said, that stuff is well-known on Pickett. It’s also well-known that the Steelers had an advantage in scouting Pickett because his school and the Steelers share a practice facility in the South Side in Pittsburgh. That, Tomlin said, helped the team realize that Pickett was their guy.

“We knew so much beyond the tape because of proximity,” said Tomlin. “I watched that guy, sit on that patio, and watch us work for three or four years. This dude loves football, man. He’s not a clock-puncher. He’s always trying to get better. He’s very comfortable in his shoes …

“You can just tell that he’s a guy that’s really comfortable with that responsibility that comes with being a quarterback. That intangible quality. That thing that we’re all trying to measure, he has. And we were close enough together that we were able to confirm it. It wasn’t speculative.”

The team drafted Pickett with their No. 20 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Pickett was the first and only quarterback selected in the first round. The next quarterback selected, Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder, wasn’t selected until pick No. 74 in the third round by the Atlanta Falcons.

“We probably spent about 15 seconds on the clock after New Orleans made that pick,” said Tomlin. “It was an easy decision for us.”

Pickett is expected to compete in the preseason with veteran quarterbacks Mitch Trubisky and Mason Rudolph for the team’s week one starting quarterback position. The team also drafted quarterback Chris Oladokun out of South Dakota State in the seventh round with the No. 241 overall pick. Oladokun isn’t expected to compete with the other three quarterbacks though as he even had the lowest possible grade for NFL draft prospects by NFL.com prior to the draft.

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