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‘Started His Career So Ineffectively:’ CBS Gives Kenny Pickett D+ Grade

Pittsburgh Steelers rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett has not been off to the hottest of starts early on in his career. While it is certainly too early to write him off, he still has a ways to go before he can be considered a quality NFL starter. However, even though it is early CBS Sports decided to put out their first round rookie grades today, and it was not flattering for Pickett. 

Chris Trapasso gave Pickett a “D+” grade, which was tied for second to last. In his write up, Trappaso mentioned that Pickett has not been given the best dealt hand, but he still has to shoulder some of the blame. 

It’s fair to look to the leaky offensive line and a conservative weekly game plan as to why Pickett’s started his NFL career so ineffectively” wrote Trapasso. “Some of it is on the quarterback. Has to be.” 

He makes a good point, Pickett has turned the ball over way too much to start his career and has cost his team two victories, the New York Jets game and the Miami Dolphins game with his turnovers. While you can certainly argue that some of Pickett’s interceptions are not on him, at the end of the day he has not been consistently throwing the ball that well. Some passes that resulted in incompletions could have been intercepted so in a way it kind of evens itself out. 

That is not to say Pickett has been awful, though. There have been some flashes of really good quarterback play. In the aforementioned Dolphins game, before he threw the game-ending interception, Pickett put a ball on a rope that hit tight end Pat Freiermuth for a needed first down to keep the drive going. 

Trapasso continued his commentary on Pickett, referencing that arm talent of his, yet also referring to his poor decision making. 

“Pickett’s flashed the arm talent that got him drafted this high at times. There’s also been many pre-2021 Pickett-type throws — inaccurate, late, into airtight coverage.”

Pickett exploded up the draft boards in 2021 due to his incredible play that season. Last season he threw 42 touchdowns to only seven interceptions, but in his two previous seasons, he threw 13 touchdowns and nine interceptions. While not terrible interception numbers by any means, it just shows that there were certainly times that he struggled to make the right throws. 

It certainly has not been a great start to Pickett’s career, but at the end of the day he has room to grow. Justin Fields did not look great last year and now he looks really good. Even Trevor Lawrence didn’t look all that great his rookie season and now this season he is starting to come into his own. What is important for Pickett is that he has shown his pure talent. He’s been really athletic and has made some great plays with his legs. In addition, he’s had moments that make you think that his arm belongs in this league. He will never have a cannon like Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen, but he has shown to have a good enough arm to make all throws needed.

As long as Pickett can develop more on the mental side this offseason and the game slows down for him, he should be able to be a quality quarterback in the future for the Steelers. 

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