The production from his rookie season, at least based on traditional metrics of yards, touchdowns, completion percentage and more, wasn’t all that impressive from Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett — if we’re being completely fair and honest.
In 13 games, Pickett finished with 2,404 passing yards, seven touchdown, nine interceptions, 6.2 yards per attempt and a 63% completion percentage. Pickett did go 7-5 in the games he started and helped the Steelers finish 7-2 in the second half of the season on the way to a 9-8 record.
Still, those raw, traditional statistics. The interception seemed a bit high too.
However, Pickett had a rather impressive season in one key advanced metric, that being turnover-worthy plays in Pro Football Focus’ advanced numbers.
While Pickett did through nine interceptions on the season, eight of those came between Week 4 and Week 8. After the Week 9 bye, Pickett threw just one interception leading to his only turnover of the second half of the season, that coming in the 13-10 win over the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 16 on Christmas Eve.
According to the chart above, Pickett had the sixth-best turnover-worthy plays percentage at quarterback in 2022 at just 2.5%, just behind the likes of the Chargers’ Justin Herbert, Philadelphia’s Jalen Hurts, Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow, Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes, and New Orleans’ Andy Dalton.
Per PFF’s glossary, turnover-worthy plays (TWP) is defined as “a pass that has a high percentage chance to be intercepted or a poor job of taking care of the ball and fumbling.”
When sorted by actual plays though, Pickett was third overall in the league in turnover-worthy plays with just 12 overall, behind Dalton and Hurts in the NFL. Additionally, Pickett was top 10 in big-time throws percentage in the NFL, coming in tied for 10th with the likes of Tua Tagovailoa, Dak Prescott, Kirk Cousins and Tom Brady at 4.3%
Great company to be in.
The turnover-worthy plays is rather impressive though, and showed the growth and maturity Pickett went through on the fly in the NFL as a rookie in 2022 after being inserted into the game at halftime against the New York Jets in Week 4.
While Pickett threw three picks in that second half in a loss to the Jets, and later threw three picks against the Miami Dolphins in a road loss on Sunday Night Football, the rookie really reined things in during the second half of the season, remaining smart and safe with the football, not doing anything to lose the game for the Steelers with a mistake, keeping them within striking distance late, ultimately leading four game-winning/comeback drives in the fourth quarter, tying the NFL record for rookies with former Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, who had four of his own in 2018.
Not only was Pickett smart and safe with the football down the stretch, cleaning up an area of his game he set out to adjust during the Week 9 bye week, he was also making big-time throws down the field, putting himself in elite company with some impressive names at the positions.
Those advanced metrics from PFF, which are rather strong in favor of Pickett, could lead to a serious Year 2 breakout for the young quarterback, which could help have the Steelers right back in playoff contention once again.