What does the future hold for Kenny Pickett? We can talk about floors and ceilings and potential and risk until we’re blue in the face, but ultimately the story is going to be told on the field. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ immediate future lies in his hands.
You can include former NFL MVP quarterback Rich Gannon, however, in the camp of those who believe that he has a bright future. During an episode of the SiriusXM Blitz on Monday, he said that he would take Pickett over any of the quarterbacks coming out of college this year. Gannon also talked a lot about what he saw from Pickett during his rookie season and his future in Pittsburgh.
“I just think they knew who he was coming out of Pitt. He’s got the size, he’s got the arm talent”, he said. “I think he’s a guy that’s gonna continue to grow and develop. He’s taken on more leadership with this team. You see him working in the offseason already with some of the receivers. He does a lot of things well and we typically see a lot of improvement from year one to year two. I think the upside for Kenny Pickett is significant”.
Drafted 20th overall in 2022, Pickett was the first quarterback to come off the board in last year’s class, and the only one taken in the first two rounds. In contrast, there is building momentum for at least three quarterbacks to go in the top 10 in 2023.
Starting 12 games his rookie season, Pickett posted a 7-5 record, though he only played a few snaps in one of the losses due to injury—suffering one of his two concussions on the year. He was a 63-percent passer going 245 for 389, throwing for 2404 yards and seven touchdowns to nine interceptions.
Pickett showed improvement over the course of the season with his post-bye numbers also reflecting this—although not in his completion percentage. He played a cleaner game in the second half of the season with a five-to-one touchdown-to-interception ratio.
There is still a lot of room for growth, needless to say, which as Gannon pointed out is very common for young quarterbacks. He sees the qualities in Pickett, though, that make great quarterbacks. “Anticipation, timing, toughness, willingness”, Gannon said, “his ability to sit in there under duress, the ability to extend plays, create and manufacture some offense”.
He also praised Pickett’s deep ball as well as his touch and timing on short and intermediate throws. He said that Pickett has good balance throwing from different platforms, particularly pointing to the final month of the season.
“I think the game’s starting to slow down for Kenny Pickett and I’m excited to see what he can do in year two”. Gannon said.
I’m sure most Steelers fans can echo that sentiment, even if there always seems to be a contingent more interested in being proven right that he’s no good than in seeing the team have success.