The Kenny Pickett hype train continues to roll down the tracks at a high rate of speed ahead of the 2023 season.
Already expected to take a substantial leap forward in his second season by a number of analysts in the national media, Pickett’s hype was added to on Friday, thanks to radio personality and NFL.com columnist Adam Schein.
Shein highlighted Pickett as one of the top bandwagons to jump on in 2023, listing him as the top player for which to do so, just behind the Atlanta Falcons at No. 1 in a nine-part column.
“Last year, Pickett looked like a rookie, mixing moments of brilliance with stretches where the game looked too fast. Normal Year 1 stuff. But Year 2 is going to be the start of something big,” Schein writes highlighting Pickett as a bandwagon to jump on. “Entrenched as the starter and comfortable in Matt Canada’s offense, Pickett is going to show off his smarts, athleticism, accuracy and ability to make plays when it matters most. He already showed special chemistry with fellow 2022 draftee George Pickens last season; in 2023, the Pickett-Pickens connection goes next level. And it definitely doesn’t hurt that Pittsburgh remade Pickett’s entire blind side up front, snagging LG Isaac Seumalo with a lucrative deal in free agency and LT Broderick Jones with the No. 14 overall pick in the draft.
“Maybe it’s time for Ben Roethlisberger to start worrying about his legacy getting lost again … Kidding, obviously. The Hall of Fame awaits Ben — but I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Ken.”
Based on the way the Steelers closed on offense last season, particularly in the second half on a 7-2 run that saw them narrowly miss the playoffs, and then go out and add a number of pieces offensively, the argument can — and should — be made that this is the season for Pickett to really show who he is.
Typically, NFL quarterbacks make a big second-year leap if they are the real deal. Based on the way Pickett performed down the stretch in his rookie season, he certainly feels like the real deal.
Adding the likes of veteran wide receiver Allen Robinson II and left guard Isaac Seumalo, along with rookie left tackle Broderick Jones and tight end Darnell Washington gives Pickett the protection he needs and the weapons for when he throws the football.
Pickett certainly has the “it” factor for the position. He’s as calm, cool, collected and confident late in games on potential game-winning drives as he is on the first series or two of a game. The stakes don’t faze him. Neither do the bright lights nor the overall moment.
Though he’s just 13 games into his career and the numbers don’t look all that great, it certainly feels like the Steelers have the right guy for the job moving forward, based on his leadership, moxie and overall confidence, even in weighty, pressure-packed moments. Nothing ever feels too big for him, and he has an unwavering confidence that he can get the job done.
While he has a bit of a way to go before he proves that he is truly legit and a realistic franchise quarterback for the Steelers, the excitement and expectations around Pickett entering Year 2 are rather high, as they should be. The NFL has recently seen some second-year quarterbacks, like Trevor Lawrence and Jalen Hurts, make significant leaps. Though it might be a stretch to expect Pickett to make the leap into stardom that Hurts and Lawrence did last season, that’s the type of company and expectations he’s put himself into due to his performance down the stretch in 2022.
If Pickett can make that Year 2 leap many are expecting, especially considering how often the Year 2 leaps have occurred for other young quarterbacks in recent seasons, the Steelers will be in a great spot moving forward, seemingly having figured out the most important position in sports rather quickly.
Hop on the Pickett bandwagon if you’d like. It’s getting crowded quickly.