By now, we’ve all heard the comments and nitpicking being made over the size of Steelers’ first round quarterback Kenny Pickett’s hands. It’s actually been a few years since any QB graced the NFL landscape with hands as small as Pickett’s, which measured 8.625 inches at his Pro Day.
In fact, in the 2015 season, Michael Vick played for the Steelers with hands measuring only 8.5 inches. If we dig a little further, two of the last QB’s to lead their teams to Super Bowls in Jared Goff and Joe Burrow, both possess hands measuring 9 inches.
Speaking of Burrow, the Cincinnati Bengals’ counterpart to Pickett is often brought up in player comparisons, and not just solely on the size of their mitts. Both are the same stature at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds. Both stuck around for the entirety of their collegiate careers, where Burrow won a Heisman Trophy in 2019 and Pickett was a finalist this past season. Both also saved their best acts for last, as Burrow threw for 5,671 yards, 60 touchdowns, and only six picks. Pickett performed excellent his senior season as well, throwing for 4,319 yards, 42 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. And both played in pro-style offenses as well, with Joe Brady orchestrating the LSU attack that ascended Burrow from a mid-round draft prospect to the #1 overall pick. Pickett learned under the tutelage of former Steelers QB Coach Mark Whipple, who coincidentally was Ben Roethlisberger’s first QB coach his rookie season in 2004.
The similarities are eerily similar, and General Manager Kevin Colbert is fully aware of this.
“In Kenny’s case, he was coming from a pro-system,” Colbert said Wednesday afternoon on The Mark Madden Show. “The maturity level that he displayed was very similar to us, to like what Joe Burrow did at LSU when he had gone down there and returned and put together a dynamic senior year that resulted in a national championship, whereas Kenny put together a dynamic senior year that helped Pitt win the ACC.”
As an earlier article on the website touched on, there are plenty of similarities between the two that are worth giving merit to, outside of their statures. Starting 49 games while at Pitt, one could argue that Pickett was actually more-seasoned coming out of school than Burrow. However, both show off great arm strength, accuracy, and an ability to extend plays on the ground.
One could even look at it from the standpoint that Burrow played with far and away more talent while at LSU. Burrow had first-round talents all over the place, including two 1,000-yard receivers in Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase, while also handing the ball off to 1,000-yard rusher Clyde Edwards-Helaire. On the flip side, it was basically the Kenny Pickett and Jordan Addison show this past season at Pitt, as he connected to the Biletnikoff Award winner 100 times for 1,593 yards and 17 scores. Addison’s recent entry to the transfer portal indicates he knows just how special of a QB Pickett was, and he wasn’t willing to suffer any drop-off after a successful ’21 season.
I personally am a fan of Pickett, and although he doesn’t seem to have the overflowing confidence or borderline cockiness that Burrow has, he definitely has a swagger about him and clearly doesn’t put any ceilings on himself. The fake slide he put on Wake Forest defenders seemed to put a stamp on his brashness, almost a “catch me if you can” type of play. And they did not, as it resulted in a 58-yard touchdown scramble. Both used a sensational senior season to catapult themselves into the league as high draft picks. And Colbert agrees it was that extra year that paid immense dividends for his rookie signal caller. It certainly panned out for Burrow, who just advanced the Bengals to their first Super Bowl since 1989, albeit a loss.
“It was almost like he spent his rookie NFL season at the college level, and really mastered it,” Colbert added. “Coach Narduzzi and Coach Whipple provided him an opportunity to take that step in a pro-schematic and it’s easier to project those types of players and those schematics to our level. So I think his maturity and coming out of a pro schematic certainly will accelerate his growth in our league.”