Former NFL quarterback is unveiling his yearly QB rankings. And for 2023, he has Kenny Pickett sitting 25th in the league. Simms released a new set of rankings on Monday and Pickett on is way up from his 2022 spot of #39.
For NFL fans, Pickett beat out fellow second-year man Brock Purdy by one spot, #25 to Purdy’s #26.
“Kenny Pickett’s arm is better than Brock Purdy’s,” Simms said. “Kenny Pickett’s release is better than Brock Purdy’s. Kenny Pickett the athlete is better than Brock Purdy. He’s also bigger than Brock Purdy.”
Pickett and Purdy were taken at opposite ends of the draft, Pickett in the first round, Purdy in the seventh round, but both found their way into the starting lineups last season. Pickett replaced an inconsistent Mitch Trubisky four weeks into the season while Purdy was thrust into action after injuries to the rest of the San Francisco 49ers’ quarterbacks. Both led their teams to wins, Pickett going 7-2 following the team’s bye while Purdy made it to the NFC Title Game before being knocked out with a nasty elbow injury.
While Purdy’s numbers were better than Pickett’s, the stats don’t tell the whole story. And Pickett led two great game-winning drives late in the season to knock off the Las Vegas Raiders and Baltimore Ravens.
Simms praised Pickett’s ability in the quick/short game.
“Pickett’s pretty damn good. Pickett’s ability to throw the ball into tight, short little windows is phenomenal,” he said. “They let him throw it, 35, 40 times during the season. They trusted him. They couldn’t run the ball.”
To be fair, the Steelers didn’t plan or want Pickett to throw that much. They only did so when they had to, when the team fell behind in blowout losses to the Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles. When the Steelers found their footing following their bye week, they took the air out of the football. No team ran the ball as often from Week Ten and on than the Steelers did.
One knock on Pickett is a lack of elite physical tools but Simms thinks there’s enough there for him to succeed in the NFL.
“His arm, it’s not superstar arm but it’s damn good…he can make all the throws.”
Simms said he believes Pickett still has work to do downfield in both velocity and more importantly, mindset.
“Does he need to improve on the power throws? Definitely,” he said. “Does he need to be a little more aggressive with his mentality on his aggressive down-the-field power throws? Yes.”
And Simms said it was obvious Trubisky showed a more aggressive and downfield nature compared to Pickett. But much of that had to do with Pittsburgh’s point of not losing the game in order to win it. Limit mistakes, make a profit on each throw, and don’t turn the ball over, something that got the offense in trouble while the Steelers struggled the first eight weeks of the season. Pickett responded and threw just one interception over the team’s final nine games.
Simms also said Pickett needs to add more muscle, something he’s done this offseason by gaining roughly 13 pounds.
Slotting Pickett 25th in the league is probably fair. We’ll have to see Simms’ entire list to more accurately judge it but Pickett shows up ahead of Purdy and a handful of veterans. Pickett’s still young and 2023 will be a huge season for him to understand the type of quarterback the Steelers have and if he can truly be the team’s long-term answer.