2023 South Side Questions: What Can We Say About Kenny Pickett’s Future As Rookie Season Draws To Close?

The Steelers are at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, informally known as the South Side facility, nearing the end of the regular season. It’s where they otherwise train all year round, and the facility that Burt Lauten insists everybody refers to by its full name.

There are still unsettled questions that need answering, even deep into the year. They entered the process with questions in the starting lineup, in the scheme, and elsewhere, but new problems always arise that need to be resolved.

Even questions about who’s starting and when may not have satisfactory answers in their finality, as midseason changes are certainly quite possible, for some positions more than others. We’re also feeling out how the new coordinator posts—or posts in new contexts—end up playing out.

There’s never any shortage of questions when it comes to football, and we’ll be discussing them here on a daily basis for the community to “talk amongst yourselves”, as Linda Richman might say on Coffee Talk.

Question: What can we say about Kenny Pickett’s future as his rookie season comes to a close?

Well, this is what it’s all about, isn’t it? The Steelers drafted their potential quarterback of the future in the first round. This season was going to be centered around learning about him. He’s played a lot. He’s won some games. He’s stepped up in clutch moments. So what can we say about him, if anything, that can potentially apply to the next decade?

One thing we can safely presume is that the Steelers are not going to be drafting another first-round quarterback in the very near future. Pickett has at least shown enough that they are going to give him time to develop, as if there were ever any doubt about that in the first place.

One thing you have to like about his second half of the year is his ability to protect the football. He only has one interception in his last 195 pass attempts. Of course, some luck plays into that, but so too does it in every other extended turnover-free streak.

One area that has to get better is the red-zone success. That’s not all on him. He put a pretty good ball on George Pickens, for example, on 3rd and goal on the opening drive. Another play saw the DB make a great play covering Diontae Johnson. We can talk about play-calling here, naturally. But more points have to be scored, period.

Maybe we can start by summarizing him up to this point. He looks the part. He shows very real and valuable leadership traits. He has good accuracy more often than not. He generally makes good decisions. He’s had some really excellent moments during the highest levels of importance, so he doesn’t shrink from the pressure.

He has a lot of room to grow still. The question is how much growth will take place? Deep ball accuracy and decision-making have to get better as well. A lot of the areas in which he has some deficiencies or areas of needed growth also have to do with gaining greater familiarity, both with the game at this level and with his teammates.

Can I say now that Kenny Pickett is the future franchise quarterback for the Steelers, the guy who’s going to be under center until he chooses to retire 15-plus years from now and who will have them contending for titles? I can’t. But I see that potential.

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