‘Excited To See How He Improves:’ T.J Watt Impressed By Kenny Pickett

When Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger retired after last season, many fans wondered what was next. If you are around my age, Roethlisberger was the only Steelers quarterback you remember. However, when the Steelers drafted quarterback Kenny Pickett in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, the vision of what the future of the team would be like started to take shape.

One person who has had an up-close view on Pickett and his development during his rookie season is Steelers EDGE rusher T.J. Watt, and he is very excited in Pickett and what he has seen so far from the Pitt product.

“It’s awesome to see in young players, particularly just the amount of confidence that they grow in themselves and the system and the whole team week to week,” Watt said to Rob Maaddi on the AP Pro Football Podcast. “And you really saw that with Kenny this year. I mean, some big time drives in big time games towards the end of the season and just very excited to see how he takes this offseason to improve his game for next year.”

Pickett’s season started off slow, getting his first game action in Week Four against the New York Jets where he tossed three interceptions in a 24-20 loss. Picket continued to struggle, going 1-4 in his first five games played. In those five games, he threw only two touchdowns to eight interceptions.

After the bye week, things turned around for Pickett as he ended up cutting down on the turnovers and began to become the guy you want with the ball at the end of the game. In his last nine games, Pickett threw five touchdowns and only one interception. And two of those touchdowns were game-winning touchdowns in the last minute to keep the Steelers’ playoff hopes alive.

In total, Pickett led four game-winning drives, all in the second half of the season. Last year Roethlisberger led the NFL in game-winning drives with seven. If Pickett can have a Roethlisberger-esque clutch gene, then the Steelers will be in good hands if they can keep it close throughout.

However, it would be nice if the team didn’t give fans a heart attack every Sunday. One way that can be avoided is if Pickett continues to develop into a very good quarterback. Pickett developed a lot throughout the season, so a full offseason to train and not worry about the NFL Draft and a training camp where he will be the number one quarterback throughout will likely help him continue to grow.

The future of the Steelers is in the hands of Pickett. While overall it wasn’t a great season for the rookie quarterback, there were moments of brilliance and things to build on. This offseason will be big for Pickett, as Watt said, so how he looks in training camp and next season will likely tell us a lot of who Pickett will be as an NFL quarterback in the long run.

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