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2022 NFL Draft

Kenny Pickett Recalls Draft-Night Drama: ‘I Had No Idea’



Steelers Rookie QB Kenny Pickett

One year ago this week, the Pittsburgh Steelers selected quarterback Kenny Pickett in the first round the 2022 NFL Draft. Pickett was an obvious target for the Steelers, who made it well known they were looking for a quarterback, and didn’t have to look far to scout Pickett, who played right next door to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex for five years before joining the Steelers.

But that doesn’t mean that Pickett knew he was staying in Pittsburgh. In fact, it wasn’t until his phone rang with head coach Mike Tomlin’s 412 area code on draft night that he knew he was going to be a Steeler.

“It was crazy,” Pickett said in an appearance on The Pivot Podcast on Tuesday. “I had no idea. It ranged from six to 20 is what the range was. It could have been Carolina, New Orleans, Detroit, Indy was talking about maybe coming back up to get me if they could make a trade or something. There was plenty of options that I had no clue where I was going.”

The Panthers passed at No. 6 overall, taking NC State tackle Ikem Ekwonu. Two picks later, the Atlanta Falcons went with USC wide receiver Drake London. The Falcons took Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder later in the draft. The Panthers didn’t get one at all.

The New Orleans Saints seemed like a sure fit for Pickett, with two picks in the first 19, but went with Ohio State wide receiver Chris Olave and Northern Iowa tackle Trevor Penning instead.

It was about at that point in his draft board slide that Pickett realized that it was probably going to be Pittsburgh.

“I just kept watching the picks go by, the picks go by, I’m sitting there next to my dad, we’re just kinda looking at each other like, who knows where this is headed?” Pickett said. “But we knew the Steelers were at 20 and that was one of my favorite places, obviously. … My phone rang and it was Coach T.”

WATCH: Kenny Pickett’s Draft Party Erupts after Being Selected By Steelers

The moment is one that Pickett will remember for the rest of his life and represented the accomplishment what had been to that point a lifelong goal. But paradoxically, he doesn’t even remember the conversation.

“I don’t even remember what he said,” Pickett said. “He said, ‘Hey man, it’s Mike T’ and it was like done. I don’t remember what he said. This better not be a prank call. I’m definitely about to get drafted. I lost it, man. It was incredibly special.

“All that stuff you talked about from childhood, it just hit me. I had everybody there. I had like 200 people. My closest friends and family, like everyone says. But generally, everyone in that building had some help in getting me to where I was.”