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Kenny Pickett is the best quarterback to come out of Pitt since Hall of Famer Dan Marino nearly 40 years ago. And with Ben Roethlisberger retired after 18 seasons, many are wondering if the Steelers will take the local product if he's still available in this year's draft or whether it will be like another Marino situation.
Charles Davis of NFL.com thinks Pickett will remain in Pittsburgh, as he has the Steelers selecting Pickett at 20th overall in his mock draft 1.0. Davis has Liberty quarterback Malik Willis going to the Panthers at No. 6.
"The Steelers have been out in force doing their homework on this year's crop of QBs, and they should have plenty of information on Pickett, given that they share a training facility with Pitt," Davis wrote. "Pickett's ascension during the 2021 season was enthralling, and the Steelers get a chance to bring him along slowly after the addition of Mitch Trubisky. A potential surprise pick here: Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder."
It's interesting that Davis mentions Ridder, as it appears that he's rising up on team's draft boards. Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com said one general manager mentioned Ridder as a mid-first round possibility when asked about the Saints' trade with the Eagles that has New Orleans acquiring the No. 16 and No. 19 overall picks. The Saints are in play for a quarterback and with having two picks within the 10-20 range now, Pickett certainly could be an option.
With Ridder's stock rising, would the Steelers select the Cincinnati quarterback at No. 20 if Pickett is gone? It certainly seems more believable now than before when many considered Ridder as a second-round pick. It's no secret that the Steelers are doing their due diligence on this year's quarterback class either, as Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin went to Pickett, Willis, Matt Corral and Ridder's pro day. Colbert also went to Sam Howell's pro day when Tomlin was at the NFL Owners Meetings last week.
Aditi Kinkhabwala of the NFL Network reported on Monday that Ridder has a pre-draft visit scheduled with the Steelers on Thursday. Sam Howell follows on Friday, Carson Strong and Matt Corral are scheduled for next week and Malik Willis is slated to come to town the week after. Kinkhabwala notes that Pickett has already met with the Steelers coordinator Matt Canada, who doesn't count against the 30 pre-draft visits that the Steelers are permitted because he's local.