Last week the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback Kenny Pickett with the No. 20 overall pick in the NFL draft. While many believed they would take Liberty Flames passer Malik Willis, the Steelers took what many are calling the most pro-ready QB in the draft.
Pickett lit up for the Panthers last season, totaling over 4,300 yards and 42 touchdowns, and leading the Panthers to their first-ever ACC championship, but not everyone is sold on his abilities.
One of those detractors is former All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman, who was very critical of Pickett on “The Richard Sherman Podcast.”
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 29, 2022
“Do I think he’s the quarterback of the future? I don’t know,” Sherman said. “It’s hard for me to trust a quarterback who wears gloves all the time. It’s just different. It’s just different. I just have a hard time with it, but he swings it.”
One of the reasons Pickett wears gloves in all weather is because of his smaller hand size (8.5 inches) which would make his hands the smallest in the league. The gloves provide him better grip and control of the football.
Sherman wasn’t done pontificating, as he never is.
“We’ll see how effective he is. And Pittsburgh, they do a great job of development. They haven’t had another quarterback under center, starting consistently ,since Ben Roethlisberger, and I mean, Ben’s been there for years, so that’ll be interesting.”
On this week’s podcast we discuss Kenny Pickett and the commentary on his hand size. It comes down to mechanics and how quickly a QB goes through his progressions, not hand size. Joe Burrow proved “small hands” don’t matter. Presented by @superdraftdfs https://t.co/AmWav4RGrH pic.twitter.com/AHcC9vONQS
— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) March 12, 2022
Mike Tomlin Says Pickett Will Be Given Chance To Compete For Starting Job
While Sherman’s question marks are valid in some instances, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin seemed pretty upbeat with the selection. He even mentioned that Pickett will have an opportunity to prove he’s ready to be the starter.
Tomlin talked about Pickett’s chances of beating out journeymen Mitch Trubisky and Mason Rudolph for the starting job during an interview with NFL Network.
“He certainly has a chance. I agree with that sentiment of his readiness from a professional perspective,” Tomlin said. “It was two things that really attracted us to him from a floor standpoint. We thought he had pro-level anticipation, we thought he had pro-level accuracy. Oftentimes, those are two variables that really require a lot of adjustment from a quarterbacking standpoint. We felt he came ready-made in those ways, and hopefully that’s an asset to him in terms of being able to compete and being ready if performance dictates it.”
Kenny Pickett passes Dan Marino’s TD record at Pittsburgh.
This TD pass to Jared Wayne is the 83rd of his Pitt career.
More on our live blog: https://t.co/ZgR1vgG6zE
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) October 30, 2021
The Steelers thought he was the most NFL-ready quarterback in the draft.
Familiarity Played A Huge Role
The Steelers and Panthers training facilities are adjacent to one another in the city. For years Pickett walked into the Panthers facility while staring at the door that leads to the Steelers facility.
Pickett talked with Peter King of NBC Sports after the Steelers made it official.
“Every time I’d walk into the Pitt side, I’d always glance over at the left and kinda envision one day walking over to my left, through the other door. Now that that’s happening, it’s pretty awesome.”
The Steelers whiffed the last time they had an opportunity to draft a transcending quarterback and Heisman candidate that played QB for the Panthers. In 1982, Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino finished fourth in Heisman voting, and the Steelers opted not to draft him. This year Pickett finished third.
Certainly not comparing Kenny Pickett to the slinger that many consider the greatest thrower of the football in NFL history, but is the team trying to right that wrong with the Pickett selection? The hometown appeal is certainly a factor. He fits the mold of the Pittsburgh fan base.
While that question may never be answered, the Steelers are making sure they’re not on the hook twice if it does happen.