Kenny Pickett prepared for pressure of being the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback - Pittsburgh Steelers Blog

PITTSBURGH — It took Art Rooney II simply 69 words to conjure up the name that haunted the Pittsburgh Steelers for twenty years.

In presenting first-round choice Kenny Pickett on Friday afternoon, Rooney raised Dan Marino, a fellow Pitt fantastic whom the Steelers had the chance to choose with the No. 21 choice in the 1983 draft.

“We are excited, obviously, to be able to introduce Kenny to you all today,” Rooney stated. “And usually, I get to say to the individual, ‘Welcome to Pittsburgh,’ and today I get to say, ‘Welcome to this side of the building.’ It’s a great feeling to be able to do that.

“And it’s also something for me to be able to say that we drafted somebody who broke all of Dan Marino’s records in college, which is pretty special.”

Instead of choosing the regional quarterback 4 years earlier, Pittsburgh selected Gabe Rivera. The protective take on played 6 video games his novice season prior to a vehicle mishap left him incapacitated. Soon after, Terry Bradshaw felt an appear his surgically fixed right — tossing — elbow versus the New York Jets and never ever played once again. Without a concrete succession strategy, the Steelers were left roaming the quarterback desert, biking through momentary responses, till they prepared Ben Roethlisberger in 2004.

Meanwhile, Marino went on to play 17 seasons for the Miami Dolphins, making MVP honors in 1984 and rewording record books en path to his Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement in 2005.

“I was walking out into the press room when [former Pittsburgh Press and later ESPN reporter] John Clayton was there, and he said, ‘I’ve got a great idea what you should do,’” Dan Rooney stated in an interview with WTAE in 2014, remembering the 1983 draft. “Marino is still there. He said ‘You should take Marino and trade [Cliff] Stoudt for a second pick.’ I said, ‘That’s really a good idea.’ I went into the room and gave them the idea. [The scouts] said, ‘Who’d you talk to?’ I was so dumb, I said John Clayton. That was immediately the end of that.”

This time, however, the Steelers chosen the quarterback next door, the one who shattered Marino’s college records.

“It’s special,” Pickett stated of his connection to Marino. “I’m glad they didn’t pass on me this year. It feels great to be here. I’ve talked to Dan a bunch. I’m going to continue to talk to him and use him as a resource.”

Thursday night was the best chapter in a Pittsburgh dream. But it’s far from ensured that Pickett will have a fairy-tale ending.

He showed himself with an excellent senior season, a 5th year given since of the COVID-19 pandemic, and now he’ll need to do it all over once again.

Pickett not just reenters the doors of the UPMC Sports Complex with raised expectations as the draft’s only first-round quarterback this year, however he likewise gets here in the shadows of Roethlisberger, the Steelers’ future Hall of Fame quarterback who retired after last season, and to a lower level, Marino.

“There’s comfort,” Pickett stated of staying in Pittsburgh, “but there’s a job at hand, and I know what I have to do. I know how to go about my business, so I’m really excited to be here. That first game back in Heinz Field instead of being in blue and gold, it’ll be black and gold, I am really excited for that.”

While he has a relationship with Marino, Pickett stated Friday he doesn’t actually understand Roethlisberger however has actually talked with existing quarterbacks Mitch Trubisky and Mason Rudolph, both his rivals and potential coaches, as he prepares to contend for the beginning task.

“I think the pressure is always going to be there, but it’ll all be good pressure because he’s a competitor,” Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi stated. “He wants to compete.

“But when you look at playing in Heinz Field, how familiar he is, he’ll know where to park. … He knows where he’s going. He’s not going, ‘Where am I going to live?’”

Through assessing Pickett over the previous 5 years, the Steelers think the maturity he acquired in his additional college season makes him particularly geared up to handle the pressure that includes the special scenarios of being this Steelers quarterback.

“Kenny is just a mature, even-keeled guy,” basic supervisor Kevin Colbert stated. “A lot of times, like when we’re studying the quarterbacks, we not only watch them on the field, but we watch them off the field, when they come off, how are they with their teammates, how do they interact with their coaches, how do they conduct media interviews.

“We talk to Kenny about how he’s going to handle this in this market because he’s going from a University of Pittsburgh great to a potential Steeler great. But it’ll be different for him. He won’t be a college player any longer, he’ll be a professional, and there will be different expectations. But we feel that the maturity that he displayed on and off the field will help him in that endeavor.”

Pickett understands he has huge shoes to fill, of quarterbacks who won Super Bowls for the Steelers and what-ifs who never ever got the opportunity. But all he can do is what he has actually done his entire profession: Put his head down and go to work.

“I don’t know if I’m Dan Marino,” Pickett stated at his professional day in March. “He’s a hell of a guy to follow. He’s a guy I was chasing the whole time I was here at Pitt. He’s a great role model to have. … It’s unbelievable to be in the same sentence as him. I’ll just try to work as hard as I can to have a successful career like he had.”

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