On Sunday night in Baltimore, Pittsburgh Steelers rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett showed why he was the only quarterback taken in the first round of the 2022 NFL draft. Playing in arguably the most bitter rivalry in the NFL, between the Steelers and Ravens, it was Pickett who shone brightest in leading Pittsburgh to a huge 16-13 road win.
The win kept their slim playoff hopes alive, as well as head coach Mike Tomlin’s record of 15-straight non-losing season to start a career. Following his young signal-caller’s game-winning drive and subsequent touchdown pass to running back Najee Harris, Tomlin raved about him in his postgame presser.
“Can’t say enough about our young QB,” Tomlin said to the media during his postgame presser.
“He smiles in the face of it. He’s always ready to be that guy in the moments we need him to be that guy, and it’s just good to see a young guy.”
— Steelers Depot 7⃣ (@Steelersdepot) January 2, 2023
While Pickett’s numbers won’t blow you away, the rookie from Pittsburgh showed poise and calm in the midst of heavy pressure. He finished just 15/27 for 168 yards and the aforementioned game-winning touchdown toss to Harris. But it was another throw on that same drive that also showed why he was taken in the first round.
This strike to wideout Steven Sims had everything; touch, zip, accuracy, and confidence.
Pickett connects with Steven Sims for a huge gain 👀
— NFL (@NFL) January 2, 2023
In getting the win, Tomlin’s team has battled back from 2-6 to a respectable 8-8 record. That’s one heck of a coaching job by one of the best to ever do it.
Is Kenny Pickett The Quarterback Of The Future?
Tomlin chose to start veteran journeyman and former No. 2 overall pick Mitch Trubisky to begin the season. That experiment didn’t last long, and Pickett stepped in, to mixed results early and often. But even then, you could see he had something in him. The way he carried himself, the way he prepared and how he handled failure early was key. It let Tomlin know he had a mature rookie who understood that success doesn’t come easy in the NFL. It’s all about dedication to your craft.
That’s one of the reasons Tomlin and Steelers brass chose Pickett over the other available quarterbacks in the 2022 NFL draft. Playing in many meaningful games at Pitt against strong competition and the university sharing the Steelers’ athletics facility, also helped Pickett’s profile. The familiarity factor played a role in why they chose Pickett, but the kid can also play, and he has a cool demeanor that teams crave in a quarterback.
Has Kenny Pickett Answered Draft Doubts?
Entering the 2022 NFL draft, there were many questions about Pickett, from the size of his hands to his advanced age (Pickett turns 25 this year). Tomlin tried to throw the media for a loop by raving about Mailk Willis and going to see the Liberty quarterback work out. It was assumed that Tomlin was infatuated with Willis’ multi-threat potential and would be willing to try and build around a new style of signal-caller in the post-Ben Roethlisberger era.
Instead, Tomlin kept it true to the Steelers culture and chose the pocket-passing Pickett. He’s a raw quarterback who has the pressure of carrying one of the NFL’s flagship franchises into a new era. His predecessor won two Super Bowls and went to three. Pickett isn’t Big Ben, but he’s starting to let the NFL world know his name, and he’s earning his way into the hearts of Steelers fans with his grit and desire. Some talent too.
— Blitz Guy (@BlitzGuyOG) January 2, 2023