NFL Draft

Hand Size, Age Not Factors For Steelers In Pickett Decision: ‘Never Even Paid Attention To It’

The Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t end up having to look too far for their first round selection. They chose to stay in-house and choose Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett with the No. 20 overall pick. And although Pickett was right across the way in their practice facility, the Steelers had internal decisions to make about whether he was the right fit or not.

The biggest questions surrounding Pickett were his hand size and age. Colbert put the questions surrounding his hand measurements to bed in the post-pick press conference on Thursday.

“Honestly I never even paid attention to it,” said Colbert. I believe it was the Clemson game and there were other scouts here and they said, you know, he has got a small hand and I said, ‘No, thanks for sharing’. But it really didn’t matter because it was never a factor. You know, his fumble rate was not anywhere near a problem. He could certainly throw the football and sometimes we get hung up on all that analytical kind of measurements and short arms and long arms and so forth. I just wanna see the results. I know coach does too. It certainly didn’t affect them.”

That pretty much means the Steelers did not for a second think that Pickett would be limited at the NFL level because of his hands. It ended up being an even bigger advantage that the Steelers were able to get the answer up close and personal at Heinz Field, where they hope Pickett will start for the next decade-plus. In five years at Pitt, Pickett fumbled 38 times, but just six of them came in 2021, which was obviously by far the best season of his college career. All in all, the Steelers knew what they were getting physically in Pickett, and it’s obvious they were comfortable with what they saw and how he handled himself in the unpredictable weather in Pittsburgh.

The other question mark was age. Pickett will be 24 years old before training camp even opens in late July. The New Jersey native is a tad older than what the Steelers usually like as far as their first-round selections go. But that, too, did not seem to deter Pittsburgh. In fact, Colbert and coach Mike Tomlin seemed to prefer Pickett’s maturity and the fact that he went back to school for another year.

“I think that’s what Kevin was alluding to when he mentioned it was a good thing for him to come back and go back to school and gain another year of college experience,” said Tomlin on Pickett growing up in his fifth and final season with the Panthers. He is 24 years old. He is a mature young man. You do see maturity in his game and I think all of those things are gonna put him into position to compete.”

Pickett’s development is something that the Steelers obviously took notice of. Having him at the facility and Tomlin’s ability to speak to him from time to time probably made all of the difference when deciding which one of the four quarterbacks they would go with. Pickett also worked with Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning at different points throughout his Pitt career, crediting him as an advisor. That may have helped immensely for a quarterback who before this season was not projected as a first-round pick.

The Steelers were obviously infatuated with how Pickett handled himself and how much growth he had shown on his way to finishing third in the voting for the Heisman Trophy. And now as Colbert departs, he waves the keys in front of Pickett’s face, hoping that he takes them and runs with them.

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