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Kenny Pickett
Pittsburgh Steelers

Will ‘Special’ Connection Make Kenny Pickett A Steeler?

  • Carmen Vitali
  • March 3, 2022
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Playing five years in such close proximity to the Pittsburgh Steelers has afforded quarterback Kenny Pickett a ‘special’ relationship with Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. Pickett is obviously no stranger to the area—playing five years with the Panthers during his collegiate career, starting four of those seasons—but what those years have also afforded him is a unique familiarity with the NFL team in town. “Yeah, all the coaches said it, they've watched a lot of tape on me and got to see me in person multiple times,” said Pickett. “So I think they just have kind of more of a hands-on visual look at me versus the film look so I think a lot more teams will be watching at Combine and pro day. They will too, but they got to see me live.” Tomlin would make it a point every summer to hang out with members of the Panthers football team, in fact. There was Pickett, watching guys like quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and wide receiver Antonio Brown, chopping it up with Tomlin simultaneously. “He would come, sit down, hang out and I wouldn't leave the bench until he left,” said Pickett of Tomlin. “I’ve been there for five years so [it’s been] a long time I've known coach and it's been a pretty special relationship.” Imagine if Tomlin was standing there, semi-grooming the replacement for the quarterback they were both watching? “Obviously, Ben's a Hall of Famer and I've had multiple talks with them,” said Pickett of the Steelers. “To play in the city I played college football in, I think it'd be really special.” Not only would it be special, it might just make sense. Pickett may just be the most pro-ready quarterback in this year’s class and despite the criticisms of his hand size, he seems to have an ever-improving handle on the ball and his accuracy. His completion rate went up each of his years with the Panthers, ending with a 67.2% average his last season. Pickett also exploded in that last year with Pitt, nearly doubling his prior year’s production, completing 334-of-497 passes for 4,319 yards and a whopping 42 touchdowns. Forget Roethlisberger, those are Tom Brady in Tampa Bay numbers. And much like Brady, Pickett can stand in the pocket and deliver while going through his progressions and making excellent decisions, picking and choosing his times to be aggressive and push the ball down the field. He’s a gunslinger, and that’s when you can bring it right back around to Roethlisberger in his hay day. This Steeler offense would fit a guy like Pickett, who can manipulate the pocket while also maintaining accuracy outside of it, keeping his eyes downfield even in scramble mode.  If he can continue the level of production with which he departed Pitt, he could easily be the Steelers’ answer for Roethlisberger’s replacement. No pressure or anything. “You're going to the NFL,” said Pickett. “Pressure is obviously a natural thing, but I know whatever team I go to I’ll just be myself and be the best player I can be.”

Written By

Carmen Vitali