Kenny Pickett’s Personal QB Coach Laments Ceiling Discussion: ‘He’s Gotten Drastically Better Every Year’

Throughout the pre-draft process leading up to the 2022 NFL Draft, much of the discussion regarding University of Pittsburgh star quarterback Kenny Pickett had not only to do with his hand size, but also his perceived floor and ceiling.

Pickett was labeled as a low-ceiling, high-floor type of guy, one that felt relatively “safe” compared to some of the other quarterbacks, especially Liberty’s Malik Willis, in the 2022 NFL Draft class. After four seasons as the starter at Pittsburgh, and a rapid rise to stardom in his final season, which culminated with an ACC championship and a Heisman Trophy finalist spot, Pickett had many draft experts split on him.

For personal quarterback coach Tony Racioppi, the discussion regarding Pickett’s ceiling was exhausting and really bothered the guy who has worked closely with Pickett the last few years, seeing the work he puts in the progression he’s made year after year. Appearing on the Cook and Joe Show Tuesday on 93.7 The Fan with hosts Joe Starkey and Ron Cook, Racioppi lamented the ceiling/floor discussion, crediting Pickett for improving each and every year.

“Well, I think that the one thing that’s bothered me through the process was people saying like, ‘he’s got the lowest ceiling of the guys in the class,’and I just kept telling guys…I told NFL teams,” Racioppi said to Cook and Starkey, according to audio via 93.7 The Fan. “I probably talked to fifteen teams through this process because of my relationship, obviously with him, and no one knows him better than I do. So, how can you say that about the kid?

“He’s gotten better, drastically, every single year,” Racioppi added, according to audio via 93.7 The Fan. “Pitt fans can appreciate that, right? If you look at every single year at Pittsburgh, he made pretty big jumps, you know? And I attribute that to, A: the work that he put in, and B: just getting more comfortable with the systems that he played in. They got better around him every year.”

While it is true that Pickett got better each and every season, capping off his Pitt career in dramatic fashion with the ACC championship, a record-setting season for the Panthers breaking some of Dan Marino’s records, and earning a trip to New York City as a Heisman Trophy finalist, Pickett is rather limited physically, in terms of projecting him into the future.

That’s not to say he can’t improve as a quarterback in terms of his pre-snap and post-snap recognition, anticipation and overall understanding of what the defense is trying to do. But right now, what you see with him is what you get. He’s a relatively mobile quarterback with good pocket presence and an adequate arm that can make nearly all the throws required of him in the NFL.

He’s just not going to wow anyone with his arm or his running abilities, and he’s not going to all of a sudden leap into the Patrick Mahomes/Josh Allen tier at the position. That’s perfectly fine. While it would be nice to have that superstar quarterback, the way the Steelers are currently building, they won’t have to rely on the quarterback to single-handedly win games, much like the Steelers were built and played early in Ben Roethlisberger’s career.

Of course, Racioppi isn’t going to put a limit on Pickett’s potential. That’s what we as analysts are here for. There is a limit, whether that’s fair or not. That’s what his tape has shown. We’ll see if he proves a lot of us wrong.

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