Pittsburgh is entering a new era of Steelers' football following the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger. This offseason, in the 2022 NFL Draft, the team selected quarterback Kenny Pickett in the first-round, and wideout George Pickens in the second. Later, in the fourth-round, Pittsburgh brought in another weapon when they selected Memphis speedster Calvin Austin III.
With a new core being built, things are getting exciting in Steeler Nation. The Steelers haven't posted a losing record since Mike Tomlin took over as the team's head coach in 2007, and the organization is hopeful that will continue.
But how do we know what's going on with Pittsburgh's new roster?
Through training camp. Here, we'll be discussing 3 pleasant surprises that should get fans fired up for the Silver and Gold's 2022 season.
Let's dive into it.
Steelers' Training Camp Surprises
3. Kenny Pickett's leadership
Pickett hasn't had the best camp, but he's proved his leadership and devotion to get better. On Monday, Pickett stayed extra hours after practice working with wideout Myles Boykin.
The two newcomers spent time solidifying their chemistry on the field, as both look to make an impact this year for the Steelers.
This came after Pickett was elevated to work with the second-team offense for the first time, after exclusively taking reps as the team's QB3. Head coach Mike Tomlin made it clear that this move was no indication of the future, and every quarterback will continue rotating.
“There will be more of that. All of those guys will run in all groups. It’s part of team development.”
Although Tomlin is adamant that Pickett's temporary elevation means nothing, this could spell the start of big things for the rookie quarterback. The reason isn't because he's running with the second-team offense, but rather due to starting quarterback Mitchell Trubisky continuously being reported to struggle during this year's camp.
Of course, if the Steelers do decide to make a quarterback change based on Trubisky's struggles, Mason Rudolph remains an adequate option. Rudolph has been the most successful of the three at this time during camp, and has the NFL experience Pittsburgh is looking for in their opening day quarterback.
Either way, Pickett's efforts to improve after practice is a thing of beauty. As training camp continues in Pittsburgh, the Steelers are hoping this is a sign of things to come from Pickett.
2. Calvin Austin III
Calvin Austin was the second receiver taken by Pittsburgh in the 2022 NFL Draft, coming after the team selected George Pickens in the second-round.
The Memphis wideout was an attractive prospect due to his speed and versatility. At the NFL Combine, Austin was clocked running a 4.42 40-time; The fifth-highest in his draft class. Through college, the stud receiver logged 169 rushing yards on 8 attempts. Austin also added 3 touchdowns on the ground to his resume.
Through camp, the 23-year-old has looked exactly like the player Pittsburgh thought they were getting when they selected him in the fourth-round.
On Monday, Austin made the play of the day at practice. The Steelers' rookie made an adjustment on a deep ball from Mason Rudolph, ending the play with six.
Mason Rudolph to rookie WR Calvin Austin with the play of the day so far. Dropped it in a bucket deep down the sideline. Great throw and catch. #Steelers pic.twitter.com/UFyt3iaWeo
— Tommy Jaggi (@TommyJaggi) August 2, 2022
This is just one of many great plays Austin has made during camp, but the fourth-round pick never lives in his past highlights. “It's always onto the next play”, Austin said when discussing his mindset.
Austin has been as advertised, but has he been the best rookie receiver in Pittsburgh?
1. George Pickens
Just as Austin has been as advertised, so has the Georgia standout George Pickens.
Whether it be against a defender or a simple drill with coaches, Pickens has looked fantastic. On Friday, the 21-year-old made one of the most athletic adjustments you'll ever see, during a drill after bobbling the football.
Check out George Pickens here. Safe to say didn’t quit on the play 😯 pic.twitter.com/b3tu8AWUHw
— Jack Hillgrove (@JackWTOV9) July 30, 2022
And that's nothing compared to what Pickens has done as a whole through camp. The rookie wideout has been so impressive, that teammate Chase Claypool had to speak on Pickens.
“I think he's going to be the best rookie receiver in the NFL”
Claypool is far from the only person who's thought highly of Pittsburgh's second-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. On Wednesday, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero sang his own praises about Pickens.
“The star of the camp so far: George Pickens. Second-round pick out of Georgia has been killing it”
Head coach Mike Tomlin isn't celebrating too much, as he believes Pickens is just scratching the surface of his potential. If Tomlin is right, we could be talking about a top-of-the-line receiver in the future. For now, though, Pickens has been superb in training camp, and will look to keep improving.