Coming out of the University of Pittsburgh after a dominant senior season with the Panthers’ program, earning a Heisman Trophy finalist spot, current Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett had a consistent high-end comparison entering the NFL.
That comparison? Current Cincinnati Bengals’ quarterback and NFL MVP candidate Joe Burrow.
The comparison to Burrow might be a lofty one, considering Burrow was a Heisman Trophy winner, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft and is very easily one of the top 5 quarterbacks in the NFL today. However, when looking simply at skillset, the comparisons make sense.
They make so much sense, in fact, the former NFL offensive lineman and current media member Ross Tucker — appearing on the 93.7 The Fan PM Show from Radio Row at the Super Bowl in Arizona — believes Pickett can absolutely be Burrow-like quickly in his career.
“I love Pickett. How many games, late in the year, did it feel like he got the job done?” Tucker said, according to audio via 93.7 The Fan. “I think that the [Jalen] Hurts-like jump [in Year 2] will be a product of what’s around him.
“Why can’t the comparison for Pickett be Joe Burrow? Is Joe Burrow that much more physically gifted than Kenny Pickett? That’s who he reminds me of.”
The comparison between Pickett and Burrow seems to be a popular one, though Pickett has a long way to go to reach Burrow’s status.
Physically, the comparisons make sense. Both had arm strength questions coming out of college, but both have shown the ability to make all the throws required to play the position in the NFL. Both are mobile quarterbacks that can take the yards that are there, and both have that ability to win where it counts in the NFL: between the ears pre- and post-snap.
Neither is going to wow anyone physically, but they’re both very smart quarterbacks overall that aren’t fazed by anything that they see on the field. They have that calm, cool demeanor on and off the field, and have the utmost amount of belief in themselves to make any play required from the quarterback position.
There’s just a real moxie with both of them that oozes out of them and rubs off on teammates, too. That’s important and really can’t be measured. Yet, you can just tell it’s similar with Burrow and Pickett.
Burrow took a significant Year 2 leap after coming back from a torn ACL, leading the Bengals to the Super Bowl. Could Pickett do that with the Steelers in Year 2?
That’s the big question. If he’s able to take a massive leap on the field from a production standpoint, the Steelers will find themselves in contention once again. He’s a good quarterback, one that has all the tools required to be a great one.
Now, it’s about development. And who knows? Maybe one day he reaches that Burrow level and makes some of those comparisons become spot-on.