Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett has had an up-and-down start to his pro career. In 16 games worth of action (15 starts), he has completed 62 percent of his passes for 3,093 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions.
Pickett’s stats are fairly pedestrian, especially in a league where so many signal-callers seem to shine once their pro careers begin. But the second-year man out of the University of Pittsburgh has succeeded where it matters most: the win column.
Pickett’s gone 9-6 as the starter of record. And he’s displayed a flair for the dramatic, with four fourth-quarter comebacks a season ago, as per Pro Football Reference. But you can consider FOX’s Colin Cowherd among those unconvinced that Pickett has what it takes to be Pittsburgh’s franchise QB.
Colin Cowherd: “It all comes down to Kenny Pickett. I don’t see greatness. I see very good…. I think Kenny Pickett has a chance to be a very good quarterback. Good B, B-plus guy. Maybe a little more mobile Kirk Cousins. A much more accurate throwing Dak Prescott. Somewhere in…
— Steelers Depot 7⃣ (@Steelersdepot) August 23, 2023
The quote in the above Tweet (or is it X?) isn’t exactly a scathing critique of Pickett from Cowherd, but his comments on the quarterback following Pittsburgh’s season-opening loss to San Francisco (as per Sportskeeda) were a fair bit harsher.
“Kenny Pickett appeared to regress, more frenetic, I thought at times he was lost, panicked, and hurried,” Cowherd said. “Pickett looked like a kid who needed help, and you can’t tell me it’s a lack of weapons for Pittsburgh, this roster for the Steelers is stacked.”
The plan Cowherd suggested to get Pickett’s successor in town is one that raised more than a few eyebrows.
Colin Cowherd: Pittsburgh Should Sell Farm for USC’s Caleb Williams
Williams has been aces throughout a collegiate career split between Oklahoma and USC. The 6-foot-1, 215-pounder has thrown for 7,649 career yards and 78 touchdowns…and counting. He’s also showcased his dual-threat ability with 895 career rushing yards and 19 touchdowns.
Cowherd thinks Williams is worth giving up a king’s ransom for and suggests the Steelers be the team to trade up for him. The Pittsburgh-specific trade package he suggested on “The Herd” included three first-round picks and two of the team’s best players in outside linebacker T.J. Watt and wide receiver George Pickens.
Colin Cowherd says the Steelers should trade:
3 First Round Picks
For the first pick to draft Caleb Williams…
— NFL Retweet (@NFLRT) September 29, 2023
That compensation isn’t too far off what some other coveted prospects have fetched in recent blockbuster trades. In 2021, the San Francisco 49ers gave up three first-round picks to move up nine spots for QB Trey Lance. This past spring, the Carolina Panthers sent a haul to Chicago — two first-rounders, two second-rounders, and wide receiver DJ Moore — for the right to draft Bryce Young.
Given that the Steelers typically draft in the middle of the pack or later, it’s not far-fetched to suggest they’d have to offer up a veritable treasure chest to trade up for the No. 1 overall pick. Whether or not they would be willing to offer up that sort of deal is another matter entirely.
Watt, in just his seventh season, is one of the franchise’s all-time greatest defenders. He’s already the leading sacker in franchise history with 83.5. And at just 28 years old, he looks poised to double that figure. Meanwhile, George Pickens has emerged as Pittsburgh’s best offensive weapon. While it’s an admittedly small sample size, the second-year man is pacing for 73 catches, 1,348 yards, and six touchdowns this season.
Kenny Pickett finds George Pickens over the middle for a 71-yard TOUCHDOWN 🎯pic.twitter.com/aS5OQxKNp2
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPoints) September 19, 2023
Beyond giving up two of their most impactful young playmakers (and the resources to select three others), such a transaction would be extremely out of character for a team like the Steelers.
For instance, they moved up three spots in this year’s draft to select offensive tackle Broderick Jones. That’s more in line with the level of aggressiveness the Steelers are comfortable exerting.
Mortgaging their future on the other hand? Unlikely. The Steelers will likely ride with Kenny Pickett through the duration of his rookie deal. Whether or not that’s his only contract in Pittsburgh will be determined by his performance over the next two-and-a-half years.
But it’s not now and likely never will be the Steelers’ M.O. to blow up the team. They prefer to build from within and choose their spots carefully when it comes to outside talent acquisitions — whether Colin Cowherd approves or not.