‘Difference In Overall Talent:’ NFL Network’s Brian Baldinger Doesn’t See Kenny Pickett Having As Good A Career As Joe Burrow

Earlier today, we wrote about Ross Tucker’s belief that Kenny Pickett has the same ceiling as Joe Burrow, now one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks. But NFL Network’s Brian Baldinger is taking the other position. While he likes Pickett’s game, he doesn’t think he can match what Burrow is doing around the league.

Appearing on 93.7 The Fan with Ron Cook and Joe Starkey, Baldinger was asked to compare the two.

“I think Joe Burrow is the best pure passer in the league right now from a standpoint of just getting rid of the ball on timing and accuracy and all those things that go with it,” Baldinger said. “And I’m not saying Kenny Pickett isn’t accurate or anything like that, I think there’s a difference in arm strength and I think there’s a difference in how they throw the football.”

Pickett received Burrow comps coming out of last year’s draft class. For their cool and calm demeanor, their mobility, and overall arm strength, not possessing cannons but functional arms coming out of school. Burrow has seemed to increase his arm strength since entering the NFL while emerging as one of the game’s top passers. He’s gone toe-to-toe and beaten the best of the best, knocking off Patrick Mahomes en route to the Super Bowl last year and beating Josh Allen’s Bills in the Divisional Round this postseason.

So comparing Pickett to Burrow has become a loftier expectation and Baldinger doesn’t think Pickett will quite reach that level.

“I would say that there’s a difference in overall talent and we’ll see how Kenny Pickett’s career plays out next to Joe Burrow’s. But I’d be a little surprised if his is better than Joe Burrow’s.”

Steelers’ fans won’t like it but it’s a fair statement to make. Burrow is no worse than a top-five quarterback in the league right now and arguably sits in the top three right up there with Mahomes and Allen. Pickett hasn’t been viewed by most to have that kind of ceiling.

While analysts will debate and argue over Pickett and Burrow, the reality is it doesn’t matter that much. What’s important is that Pickett cements himself as the Steelers’ quarterback not just of 2023, which he will be, but the long-term future. The jump he makes from Year One to Year Two is going to be crucial. On a macro level, Pickett will have to show he can compete alongside the likes of Burrow and the other great AFC quarterbacks, including the top names in the AFC North. There is no easy path to Super Bowl contention. It’s not even like the height of Ben Roethlisberger’s prime where the only two big threats were Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. If you could avoid both of them, you had a good shot to make the Super Bowl and in two of the Steelers’ three Super Bowl appearances, they didn’t have to face either in the postseason.

There’s no “luck” in the AFC as it currently sits with Mahomes, Allen, Burrow, Justin Herbert, Lamar Jackson, Trevor Lawrence, and who knows, maybe Aaron Rodgers if he gets traded to the New York Jets. So Pickett will have to play large, even if he never reaches Burrow’s level.

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