Omar Khan On Kenny Pickett: ‘The Future’s Really Bright’

Kenny Pickett grew up his rookie season. He had no choice. By Week 5, he was the Pittsburgh Steelers’ starter, heading to Buffalo in an underdog matchup. He took his lumps in that game and several others but by year’s end, led back-to-back game-winning drives to beat the Las Vegas Raiders and Baltimore Ravens, the Steelers winning their final four games and nearly sneaking into the playoffs.

There’s no doubt Pickett is the Steelers’ quarterback of 2023 and speaking to NFL Network’s Andrew Siciliano Tuesday, GM Omar Khan recapped Pickett’s first year and where he’s headed next season.

“His growth, his leadership, it was so much fun to watch him grow as the season went on, “Khan said of Pickett. “Just a person, as a player, I just think the future’s really bright. He wants to be great and he works so hard at it. And he really gets guys around him to rally for him and just play better. It’s exciting.”

On the surface, Pickett’s rookie numbers don’t look inspiring. 63% completion rate, seven touchdowns, and nine interceptions. But his stats and more importantly, his play, steadily improved throughout the season. The offense hit the reset button after the bye and everyone was better off for it. From Week 10 on, Pickett took great care of the ball, throwing five touchdowns to just one interception over that span.

As Khan noted, Pickett also grew as a leader, a role he could completely embrace once named starter. Pittsburgh had the NFL’s youngest offense a year ago and endured predictable growing pains. Now, that group will be nearly 100% intact into 2023, including Pickett, who will enter the year as the team’s obvious starter instead of starter-in-waiting as he was a year ago.

With a year of experience under his belt, Pickett should make a big leap in Year Two. Other young names on this offense should do the same. WR George Pickens is in a similar position while RB Jaylen Warren no longer has to scratch and claw for a roster spot. He’s their #2 RB. While not second-year players, the offensive line has greatly improved compared to a year ago when they were adjusting to OL Coach Pat Meyer’s system, though we’ll see if Pittsburgh makes any big upgrades there over the next two months.

2023 is a critical year for a Steelers’ offense that’s scuffled for several seasons. They haven’t finished top ten in scoring since 2018 and over the past two years, have been stuck in the 20’s. Surrounded by a strong AFC North and AFC at-large full of the best quarterbacks in the game, Pittsburgh will need to bring the firepower to match.

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