Kenny Pickett Credits ‘A Sense Of Urgency’ For Making Plays Outside The Pocket

Pittsburgh Steelers QB Kenny Pickett jumped on 93.7 The Fan this morning and talked with Pat Bostick on The Panthers Insider Show, continuing his media tour highlighting his rookie season and what he looks forward to as he goes from being a rookie in the NFL through his first full offseason into 2023 as the unquestioned starter for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Bostick asked Pickett about his willingness and ability to make plays outside of the pocket as a passer as well as a runner due to the increased speed of the game at the NFL level. Pickett responded that he recognized the need to use his athleticism more as the season progressed to make plays against the caliber of defenses he was facing on a weekly basis.

“Yeah, a hundred percent,” Pickett responded. “I mean, the pass rush is a lot faster at the pro level. You’re scrambling at a faster pace than I say I was at the college level. The sense of urgency when you get out, when you break contain, when those guys can change direction a lot faster than you can. Honestly, they’re probably the best athletes on the field and that front four on the defensive side. So, just a sense of urgency when I was taking off was a lot higher than the college level. And I think the more time I could buy for those guys down the field to get open, it just kind of helped us find some explosive plays and stay on the field.”

Pickett got exposed to the sheer speed and talent of the NFL game right away in his first NFL action, coming in at halftime against the Jets as the Steelers needed a spark with Mitch Trubisky struggling. He got his welcome to the NFL moment just a quarter later, taking a big shot from DL Quinnen Williams, completing the pass to TE Pat Freiermuth to set up Pittsburgh with first-and-goal.

As Pickett got more comfortable in the offense as the season wore on, we saw him become more of a “gamer” per se, escaping the pocket with the defense bearing down on him, looking to pick up yards himself on the ground of give his receivers time to get open down the field to make a play. We saw this come into effect in Pittsburgh’s back-to-back fourth quarter victories against the Raiders and Ravens, extending plays and making off platform throws to his receivers to move the offense down the field to get the game-clinching score with the clock ticking.

Kenny Pickett may not have the athleticism of Lamar Jackson or Malik Willis. He may not have the off platform throwing capabilities of Josh Allen or Patrick Mahomes. However, Pickett does have enough of both traits to extend plays, keep drives alive, and help his offense move the ball when the play breaks down. His mobility is a breath of fresh air from what Pittsburgh has had with a stationary Ben Roethlisberger in the twilight of his NFL career, and that playmaking ability should only increase as he gets more exposure to NFL defenses and reps with his receivers this upcoming season.

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