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Factoid

Kenny Pickett

New Steeler will probably start early

The Steelers have three potential starting quarterbacks on their roster: holdover Mason Rudolph, free agent addition Mitch Trubisky, and first-round draft pick Kenny Pickett. It's not an earth-shattering statement to say that Pickett will probably start the majority of the team's games this season.

When first-round quarterbacks don't start most of their rookie seasons, as was the case with Trey Lance for San Francisco last year, it's increasingly rare -- anomalous, you could say. Over the last 15 years there have been 49 quarterbacks selected in the first round. Thirty-five (nearly three-quarters) started more than half of their rookie season. Forty of them (82 percent) started at least 5 games. That includes Deshaun Watson, who failed to start half the season simply because of getting hurt.

In the table, sorted by rookie year starts, 2021's first-rounders are in bold. Four of five started at least 10 games. Maybe Trubisky looks stellar in August, but that's the most likely outcome for Pickett, too.

FIRST-ROUND QUARTERBACKS, ROOKIE SEASONS (2006-PRESENT)
PkYearPlayerGSCmpAttYdsTDInt
152021Mac Jones, N.E.1735252138012213
12021Trevor Lawrence, Jac.1735960236411217
12019Kyler Murray, Ariz.1634954237222012
22016Carson Wentz, Phil.1637960737821614
12015Jameis Winston, T.B.1631253540422215
12012Andrew Luck, Ind.1633962743742318
82012Ryan Tannehill, Mia.1628248432941213
12011Cam Newton, Car.1631051740512117
12010Sam Bradford, St.L.1635459035121815
32008Matt Ryan, Atl.1626543434401611
182008Joe Flacco, Balt.1625742829711412
62020Justin Herbert, LAC1539659543363110
22012Robert Griffin, Was.152583933200205
222012Brandon Weeden, Cle.1529751733851417
52009Mark Sanchez, NYJ1519636424441220
102011Blaine Gabbert, Jac.1421041322141211
22021Zach Wilson, NYJ132133832334911
12018Baker Mayfield, Cle.1331048637252714
32018Sam Darnold, NYJ1323941428651715
102018Josh Rosen, Ariz.1321739322781114
32014Blake Bortles, Jac.1328047529081117
32006Vince Young, Ten.1318435721991213
62019Daniel Jones, NYG1228445930272412
22017Mitchell Trubisky, Chi.12196330219377
22015Marcus Mariota, Ten.1223037028181910
322014Teddy Bridgewater, Min.1225940229191412
72018Josh Allen, Buff.1116932020741012
102006Matt Leinart, Ariz.1121437725471112
112021Justin Fields, Chi.101592701870710
12020Joe Burrow, Cin.102644042688135
162013EJ Manuel, Buff.101803061972119
122011Christian Ponder, Min.1015829118531313
12009Matthew Stafford, Det.1020137722671320
52020Tua Tagovailoa, Mia.91862901814115
172009Josh Freeman, T.B.915829018551018
152019Dwayne Haskins, Was.7119203136577
322018Lamar Jackson, Balt.799170120163
12016Jared Goff, LAR7112205108957
122017Deshaun Watson, Hou.61262041699198
112006Jay Cutler, Den.581137100195
252010Tim Tebow, Den.3418265453
32021Trey Lance, S.F.2417160352
262016Paxton Lynch, Den.2498349721
222014Johnny Manziel, Cle.2183517502
102017Patrick Mahomes, K.C.1223528401
12007JaMarcus Russell, Oak.1366637324
82011Jake Locker, Ten.0346654240
222007Brady Quinn, Cle.0384500
262020Jordan Love, G.B.000000

Daunting company for Lance. Patrick Mahomes might be the game's best quarterback. Six of the other seven first-rounders to start 3 or fewer games as rookies were out of the league very quickly: Tebow, Lynch, Manziel, Russell, Locker, Quinn. Green Bay giving Aaron Rodgers a multi-year deal augurs poorly for Jordan Love ever amounting to anything. Not much middle ground between star and bust from those guys the last 15 years. Seems like Lance will either hit it big, or, you know.

I like what I've seen of Pickett. He wasn't drafted where you'll typically see a lot of NFL successes (from the above list, the only successful quarterback drafted in a similar spot is Lamar Jackson), and several teams in need of a quarterback (like Carolina) let him pass them by. But he's unusually experienced (49 college starts), and he's going to a franchise that has some nice things in place -- established, winning coaching staff, good receiving corps, capable running back who can help out by catching dumpoffs. It's not a bad situation.

Fantasywise, Pickett is probably limited to dynasty and perhaps Superflex appeal. He's not going to be a dynamic runner, so little chance he ranks among the top 15 quarterbacks as a rookie (maybe not top 20). But I think his chances of hitting and being a successful NFL quarterback are good. He's the only rookie quarterback this year I can say that about.

--Andy Richardson

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