Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett is largely expected to take a significant jump in his second season in the NFL, especially after closing his rookie season in strong fashion with four fourth quarter/game-winning drives in the second half of the season, helping the Steelers finish 7-2 down the stretch.
Yet despite that overwhelming belief that he’s going to take a significant step forward in 2023, Pickett somehow ranked behind rookie quarterbacks Bryce Young, Anthony Richardson and C.J. Stroud, not to mention young quarterback Jordan Love in CBS Sports’ QB Power Rankings Thursday morning.
Pickett, with 12 starts under his belt, came in at No. 28 overall in the QB Power Rankings from CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin. He slotted in behind Young at No. 21, Love at No. 24, Richardson at No. 26 and Stroud at No. 27, with those four having a combined one NFL start to date.
“How far does ‘grit’ get you?” Benjamin writes regarding Pickett in his QB Power Rankings. “Certainly few young QBs are better-suited to grow thanks to an improved Steelers front and pass-catching group, but Pickett thrived more as a late-game fighter than efficient full-timer as a rookie.”
Pickett certainly came on strong in the second half of the season and really worked some magic late in games, but this is not 2011 Tim Tebow we’re talking about here when it comes to being a “late-game fighter.”
Having Pickett this low, especially because quarterbacks that haven’t even taken a single snap in the NFL, is rather absurd. There certainly has to be some projecting here, but experience and actual reps in an NFL game should factor into these rankings as well. Young, Stroud and Richardson likely would have ranked above Pickett in the draft class if they all came out together. That is fair, but what Pickett did last season in the NFL was rather impressive overall, raw numbers be damned.
In due time, this ranking will look sillier by the second, especially if Pickett takes the significant step forward that the overwhelming majority seems to be projecting him to do in the Black and Gold.
If he does that, the Steelers will be real contenders — something the Panthers, Colts and Texans won’t be anytime soon even with Young, Richardson and Stroud under center.