The Pittsburgh Steelers selected quarterback Kenny Pickett in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, and with him now secured, we are getting a chance to dive even deeper into his tape of his college career. I have started doing several different contextualizations on Pickett from his time at the University of Pittsburgh to release between now and the start of training camp, and the first two I have completed centers around his “Big Time” throws. My first in this series focused on Pickett’s 2021 “Big Time” throws and the second one on his 2020 “Big Time” throws. The third post in this series focused on Pickett’s 2019 “Big Time” throws. This post will now focus on his 2018 and 2017 “Big Time” throws.
Just as a reminder, below is the definition that Pro Football Focus gives for a “Big Time” throw:
“In its simplest terms, a big-time throw is on the highest end of both difficulty and value. While the value is easy to see statistically, the difficulty has more to do with passes that have a lower completion percentage the further the ball is thrown down the field. Therefore, the big-time throw is best described as a pass with excellent ball location and timing, generally thrown further down the field and/or into a tighter window.”
With the definition of a “Big Time” throw now revisited, let it be known that Pickett registered eight such throws during the 2018 season and two in 2017, according to PFF. The total “Big Time” throws in both of those years obviously ranked Pickett way down the list in the FBS. Even in the ACC, Pickett’s total number of “Big Time” throws ranked way down the list of quarterbacks in the ACC, and the same goes for his percentage (2.4% – 2018 & 2.9% – 2017) of “Big Time” throws, according to PFF.
Below is a tabled breakdown of those 10 throws made by Pickett in 2018 and 2017, and each one includes a link to the television tape of the play. The contextualized data below also includes Pickett’s alignment for each play (under center, shotgun, or pistol) and if play action was used. Additionally, the area of the field is also indicated for each throw, with three being between the hashes. One and five are outside the numbers, while two and four designates throws between the numbers and the outside hashmark.
The thing that sticks out once again about the data is that nine of Pickett’s “Big Time” throws in these two seasons came with him in the shotgun (9). Only one came from him being under center. As was the case in 2021, 2020, and 2019 with Pickett, that’s not overly surprising based on the current culture in college football. The fact that he even had one under center “Big Time” throws in 2018 is very encouraging, as is the fact that one of his total throws included play action.
The next thing that sticks out is that just one of Pickett’s “Big Time” throws in 2018 and 2017 came on a 1st and 10 situation. Five of them came on either a third or fourth down. Four of these 10 throws resulted in touchdowns as well. There were no drops in these 10 throws.
Pickett once again did use all areas of the field as part of his 10 “Big Time” throws in 2018 and 2017. Six of them went between the numbers on the field, with two of those being between the hashmarks. The other four went outside the numbers, so once again, a healthy mix indeed.
Finally, the average depth of target of these ten “Big Time” throws in 2018 and 2017 by Pickett was 27.8 yards from the line of scrimmage. His longest “Big Time” throw in these two years was 52 air yards against Duke, and his shortest was 12 air yards against Albany.
Make sure you click the video links for each of the 10 plays below to get an even better context of the “Big Time” throws Pickett had in 2018 and 2017.