It’s no secret what type of football the Pittsburgh Steelers want to play this season. They showed it last year with their emphasis on the run game in the back half of the season and now with their new draft picks they are 100% committed to smashmouth football. Even though they are clearly committed to the run game, that doesn’t mean they don’t believe in quarterback Kenny Pickett.
Today, draft guru Daniel Jeremiah joined NFL Network and said he believes Kenny Pickett was the quarterback who benefitted most from the 2023 NFL Draft.
“They’re going to be able to run the ball better behind those two guys [Broderick Jones and Darnell Washington] which is going to put him [Pickett] in more third and mediums and third and shorts than they were in last year and it’s going to make his life a whole heck of a lot easier,” said Jeremiah.
Last season Pickett really showed improvement when he wasn’t asked to throw 50 passes a game against some of the best defenses in the NFL. When running back Najee Harris was able to run a lot and successfully it opened up the passing game and allowed Pickett to be the savior as he consistently led game-winning drives in the final nine weeks of the season.
Not only is tight end Darnell Washington another weapon for Pickett, but also a damn good run blocker. There is a reason in his Instagram handle Washington has “The Six Lineman” in it; he relishes the opportunity to help out the run game.
First-round pick Broderick Jones is an athletic tackle who is a good run blocker. While his pass blocking needs to improve that will happen over time. It is no guarantee that Jones will start right away, but over time he will likely turn into a really good left tackle who can be a mauler in the run game and rock in protecting Pickett’s backside.
But back to the 2023 season, Jones (if he starts) and Washington will certainly help the Steelers build on the strong finish in 2022. The better the run game the more defenses will have to stack the box and try and sell out to stop it. Pickett has shown the ability to beat defenses with good throws and by making good reads, so by forcing defenses to sell out for the run by either stacking boxes, biting on play action, or running heavier personnel, it will make Pickett’s life easier as a quarterback.
Right now the Steelers don’t need Pickett to throw for 300 yards and three touchdowns every game, and this draft certified that they want to make life as easy for him as possible. Pickett has shown he can get the job done in crunch time, so the Steelers decided to make his life easier by giving him a better offensive line this offseason and by making sure the run game will continue to improve.