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. This post will focus on his 2019 “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 18 such throws during the 2019 season, according to PFF. Even so, those “Big Time” throws ranked him way down the list in the FBS in 2019. Even in the ACC, Pickett’s total number of “Big Time” throws was fourth overall. For context, Trevor Lawrence and Sam Howell led the ACC in “Big “Time” throws with 30 each. Pickett’s 3.5% “Big Time” throw percentage ranked sixth overall in the ACC, according to PFF.
Below is a tabled breakdown of those 18 throws made by Pickett in 2019, 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 again about the data is that 16 of Pickett’s “Big Time” throws came with him either in the shotgun (13) or in pistol (3). Only one came from him being under center. As was the case in 2021 and 2020 with Pickett, that’s not overly surprising based on the current culture in college football. The fact that he even had two under center “Big Time” throws in 2019 is very encouraging, as is the fact that seven of his total throws included play-action.
The next thing that sticks out is that 11 of Pickett’s “Big Time” throws in 2019 came on a 1st and 10 situation. Just two of these throws resulted in touchdowns, however. Four of these throws were graded by PFF as being drops. One of my favorite plays of this 2019 lot was even a drop.
— Steelers Depot 7⃣ (@Steelersdepot) May 6, 2022
Pickett did use all areas of the field as part of his 18 “Big Time” throws in 2019. 13 of them went between the numbers on the field, with nine of those being between the hashmarks. The other five went outside the numbers, so a healthy mix indeed.
Finally, the average depth of target of these 18 “Big Time” throws in 2029 by Pickett was 24.8 yards from the line of scrimmage. His longest “Big Time” throw in 2019 was 37 air yards against North Carolina, and his shortest was 17 air yards against Central Florida.
Make sure you click the video links for each of the 18 plays below to get an even better context of the “Big Time” throws Pickett had in 2019.