Count former NFL offensive lineman-turned-NFL analyst and Pittsburgh native Brian Baldinger as one of many rather impressed with the debut of Pittsburgh Steelers rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett in Saturday’s preseason opener against the Seattle Seahawks at Acrisure Stadium.
Appearing on 93.7 The Fan’s PM Show with hosts Andrew Fillipponi and Chris Mueller, Baldinger sang the praises of the rookie quarterback, stating to Fillipponi and Mueller that he was really impressed with Pickett’s poise in his debut, that nothing was too big for him, and that he did a really good job making the right reads and the correct throws.
In his first NFL game action, Pickett finished 13-for-15 on the night for 95 yards and two touchdowns, finding running back Jaylen Warren and wide receiver Tyler Vaughns for scores, the latter of which ended up being the game-winner. Pickett also fired a strike to fellow rookie Connor Heyward for a two-point conversion to cap off his first NFL drive.
Overall, he looked very comfortable and had a storybook ending to game that could serve as a storybook beginning for his time in the black and gold.
“I thought he was awesome,” Baldinger said to Fillipponi and Mueller, according to audio via 93.7 The Fan. “…I thought he was really, really crisp. I thought he kind of reminded me of what I watched at Pitt over the course of his four years there. …Nothing was too big for him…So I just thought the way he handle himself way, he move the team, decision making. And look, when a quarterback can put the ball where he wants to put it, that’s always a good start for any quarterback. And I know it’s preseason, it’s early, all that stuff, but I thought it was a really impressive debut.”
It was an impressive debut for Pickett, one that couldn’t have been drawn up better for the 20th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. He flashed the ability to throw with anticipation, made quick, sound decisions to get the football out of his hands in a timely fashion, showed off his ability to throw on the run and make plays with his legs, and overall was in complete command of the huddle.
That’s exactly what you want to see from a quarterback, let alone a rookie at the position. As Baldinger said, the moment wasn’t too big for him at all, even with the fans inside Acrisure Stadium going crazy as he ran onto the field for the first drive of the second half to a chorus of “Kenny! Kenny! Kenny!” chants inside the stadium he played the last four years at with the Pittsburgh Panthers.
It was a special moment made all that more special by the future franchise quarterback delivering the way he did late in the game, throwing the game-winning touchdown to Vaughns to lift the Steelers to victory. It’s only preseason and there’s still a ton of football left to play, but Pickett was really impressive.