It’s pretty good to be Kenny Pickett. After the whirlwind of the last 18 months, for a moment he can stop and reflect. Leading Pitt to an 11-win season, breaking Dan Marino’s records. Preparing for the NFL Draft. Becoming the first quarterback selected. And staying local with the team literally next door.
As he enters his first full NFL offseason, Pickett took a step back to put things in perspective, joining 93.7 The Fan’s Pat Bostick on The Panthers Insider Show Saturday morning.
“It was an unbelievable final college season, rookie season, having that Heisman ceremony and then getting drafted in the first round,” Pickett said. “And my dreams came true this year and it was incredibly special and I gotta enjoy it with a lot of my family members, friends and family.
“So, I’ll be able to go home next weekend and really kind of soak it in and enjoy it and tell stories and it will be great to see everybody.”
It’s a year that did come with challenges. Adjusting to the NFL. Playing in a familiar place helped but there’s no substitute for adjusting to the speed, complexity, and intensity of the game. Pickett’s first NFL action was unexpected, replacing Mitch Trubisky at halftime of Week 4, with essentially zero practice reps. He threw an interception on his first pass, though blame should be placed now on WR Chase Claypool than quarterback. Pittsburgh struggled to a 2-6 start, blown out by the Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles, and had to claw their way back the rest of the way.
But they did. Pickett and this offense grew after the bye, becoming the second team in NFL history to start a year 2-6 and finish with nine wins (this year’s Jaguars team was the other). Pickett threw just one interception since the bye and the team discovered how to win. In classic Steelers’ fashion, the team won nailbiters, Pickett leading comebacks over the Last Vegas Raiders and Baltimore Ravens in must-win primetime spots. And he ends the year as the team’s clear starter for 2023.
“It was a lot of learning and just taking it a day at a time. But I definitely enjoyed it and it was an unbelievable learning experience and I think I have a lot to build off of in year two.”
As he said to other outlets earlier in the week, he’s spending the offseason to work on his footwork and pocket movement. While stats can be deceiving, he’ll look to post better numbers next year. A higher completion percentage and more touchdowns than interceptions as the Steelers look to evolve their offense into something more potent and explosive. Pickett’s the guy for 2023 and his dreams will only grow from here.