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2022 NFL Draft

Steelers Surprised By Pickett’s Draft Slide: ‘Never Thought He Would Make it to Us’

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Steelers QB Kenny Pickett

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers were surprised to have their pick of the 2022 NFL Draft quarterback class when their pick came around at No. 20 overall on Thursday night and they took Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett.

With quarterback-needy teams such as the Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans, New Orleans Saints and Seattle Seahawks picking ahead of the Steelers, and a draft board with eight teams holding multiple first-round picks inviting trades, it seemed like a long shot.

But that’s exactly what happened, with Pickett, Malik Willis and the whole rest of the class falling in Kevin Colbert’s lap.

“Honestly, never thought he would make it to us at 20,” Colbert said Thursday night. “We map it out and we get 20 guys lined up. The quarterbacks were in that group. … We’re going to get a player at 20, but to get that player at 20 was certainly a pleasant surprise.”

Pickett felt that he had a pretty good grip on the range of teams that he could land on, and to him, the Steelers were toward the bottom of that list.

“I had a range of about 6 to 20 that I felt like was the range I could go in,” Pickett said. “I had a pretty good feeling when I got to 20 that would be the call. As soon as the Saints pick went in, I got the call.”

It turns out that the Steelers could have had their pick of the quarterback class even lower than No. 20, as Pickett was the only passer taken on the first day. The last time that happened was in 2013, when E.J. Manuel went to the Buffalo Bills.

Colbert said they had conversations about trading up to make sure they got their man as craziness ensued in the middle of the round. Picks No. 11, 12, 13, 15, 16 and 18 were all traded on draft day.

But the offensive line and wide receivers groups received the most attention. The Panthers took NC State tackle Ikem Ekwonu at No. 6, the Seahawks picked Mississippi State tackle Charles Cross at No. 9, the Saints took Ohio State wide receiver Chris Olave and Northern Iowa tackle Trevor Penning with their two picks and the Texans went with Texas A&M guard Kenyon Green.

Colbert said before the draft he thought there were multiple starting quarterbacks in the draft class, and thought there was a possibility that none of them would be there when the Steelers picked.

“No idea,” he said. “Honestly, I didn’t know if any of them would make it to us at 20. But they were there, and again, Kenny was the pick.”

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