While Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett had a strong finish to his rookie season, leading the team to a 7-2 finish post-bye week and orchestrating back-to-back game-winning drives in Weeks 16 and 17, there’s a lot of growth in his game to be had as he transitions into his sophomore campaign. While much of that growth should come on the field, there are off-the-field qualities — such as leadership — that Pickett could improve upon as well, according to head coach Mike Tomlin. Speaking to the media at the coaches’ breakfast at the NFL Owner’s Meetings in Phoenix, Tomlin talked about Pickett growing as a leader as he heads into year 2.
“I just think it’s leadership. That’s communicating informally with his teammates and organizing work that’s productive for all parties involved, and he’s done a nice job with that. But there’s some get better in the midst of that. Just from a leadership perspective, the things that kind of come with being him and come with the quarterback position,” Tomlin said via video posted to Steelers.com
Earlier this offseason, Pickett, along with backup quarterback Mitch Trubisky, trained with wide receivers in Florida. While it’s unclear who organized the trip, Trubisky organized a trip to Florida last April (before the draft) for Pittsburgh’s receivers to work out. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he organized this one as well with Pickett in tow this time.
Pickett’s leadership in the huddle is something that teammates praised throughout 2022, and his ability to take charge of games was something that you rarely see out of a rookie quarterback. He also seemingly has a great work ethic, as he was working out soon after the season ended. But there’s always room to improve, and Tomlin clearly believes Pickett could stand to (and will) improve upon in organizing workouts with his teammates and communicating with them in the offseason. Obviously, none of us have the perspective of what that entails as an NFL quarterback and what level of communication and work is necessary when it comes to offseason workouts and preparation.
Regardless, I have zero doubts about Pickett’s leadership given what his teammates have said about him and what he showed as a rookie. There’s clear there’s work to be done, if Tomlin is to be believed, but as a young quarterback that’s to be expected. It’s not as if Pickett is behind the curve compared to his peers, as I’d imagine most quarterbacks go through a similar adjustment period when it comes to leadership and learning the offseason norms of the NFL. Needless to say, if the biggest thing Pickett has to work on is being more communicative with his teammates in the offseason, that isn’t a big issue.