Pickett’s Natural Leadership And Pro Accuracy Made Him Steelers’ Pick, Says Tomlin

You’ve heard plenty about why the Pittsburgh Steelers made Kenny Pickett the first QB off the board in the 2022 NFL Draft, and more importantly, the new face of the franchise, the heir to Ben Roethlisberger’s throne. But Mike Tomlin expanded on some of those reasons during a Wednesday interview with Rich Eisen of The Rich Eisen Show, breaking down what made Pickett the easiest projection and most “Day One” guy.

“He had a couple elements of his game that were really attractive when you’re talking about the quarterback position,” Tomlin told the show. “His ability to anticipate and his professional level accuracy. Oftentimes the college guys have a ways to go in those areas. And when we talk about someone having a high floor at the quarterback position, usually it’s because they’re pro ready in those areas. And he was.”

Though raw completion percentages are a dangerous number to look at in a vacuum, Pickett’s numbers shortly rose in 2021. In 2020, it sat at a below-average 61.1%. In 2021, it jumped up to 67.2%. Advanced metrics look even better. As our Andrew Shaver compiled, Pickett’s adjusted red zone completion percentage was a whopping 74.6%, five points higher than the next closest of the class’ top names and roughly 10% higher than Matt Corral or Sam Howell.

Kevin Colbert stated accuracy is a QB’s most important trait. And Pickett’s accuracy is overall not a concern. Beyond the X’s and O’s and traits, Tomlin also praised Pickett’s intangibles. Playing in the same city and working at the same facility made them easy to spot.

“We also had had the proximity angle and we just had a bird’s eye view of his growth and development, not only as a player, but as a person, as a leader. And he does the things that comes with the quarterback position in a very natural way. Whether it’s dealing with and leading teammates. Whether it’s media responsibilities and so forth. None of that appears to be a chore for him. It happens in a very natural way and I think that’s an asset to him.”

To a large degree, Pickett knows and understands the media pressure Pittsburgh brings. It isn’t New York, it isn’t Chicago, but there’s a high expectation set. Pickett was able to meet and succeed those marks in the college game. Now, he’ll try to do the same in the pros.

Pittsburgh’s offense certainly is looking for leadership. Without Ben Roethlisberger and the veteran offensive line of David DeCastro, Ramon Foster, Maurkice Pouncey, etc., it’s a young, and right now, bit of a leaderless group. If Pickett can show leadership, command, and quality on-field play, he’ll be the team’s starter out of the gate.

Check out the full interview below.

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