NFL.com recently released a list of the top-10 rookies in the best situation to succeed in 2022 and beyond. Here’s why Steelers QB Kenny Pickett was number one.
There were many questions about Kenny Pickett prior to the 2022 NFL Draft and whether or not he was the quarterback that would be the best fit to land with the Pittsburgh Steelers. While some pointed to his familiarity with the team and playing at Heinz Field over the past five seasons at Pitt, others questioned his tiny hands, fumble issues, and lack of overall arm talent.
I wasn’t particularly fond of the selection for some of these same reasons. Though fans would argue that Pickett is already used to throwing in the Pittsburgh wind and weather, it’s important to consider that the NFL season marches well into January while Pitt was usually done with their season in late November.
I think many of these questions we have surrounding Pickett are justifiable, and there’s no telling how some of these traits are going to affect him at the next level. However, here’s something that could perhaps put your mind at ease.
Recently, Marc Ross of NFL.com wrote an article about ten NFL rookies in the best situations to succeed in 2022 and beyond. He had Kenny Pickett taking the number one spot on his list. Here’s what he had to say about the Steelers rookie:
"Like Pitt product James Conner before him, Pickett has the luxury of not only staying in the same city but in the same facility as he transitions to the NFL. This familiarity will allow Pickett to focus on football and competing for the Steelers’ QB1 job.Pittsburgh has the stability — from the coaching staff to the playmakers on both offense and defense — to help Pickett succeed no matter when he steps foot on the field. He has all the tools as an athletic passer to help the Steelers win games as a piece of the puzzle in Matt Canada’s offense. Perhaps most importantly, he has the confidence and moxie to win over the locker room and coaching staff."
For his reasoning, Ross points to familiarity with the facility as well as being surrounded by playmakers on both sides of the ball. It was also interesting that Ross made mention of his confidence and moxie to win over the locker room. While this is something that really can’t be measured, many believe that Pickett might just have that ‘it’ factor to his game.
Is the Steelers rookie in the best situation?
Just below Pickett on this list of rookies in the best situation to succeed were Eagles second-round center Cam Jurgens, Bills 23rd overall pick Kaiir Elam, Saints 11th overall pick Chris Olave, and Ravens center Tyler Linderbaum. Each of these selections makes sense, as they seem to have landed in perfect positions to succeed.
It’s interesting that Kenny Pickett would be ranked ahead of each of them — especially considering that Pittsburgh’s offensive line was pretty dreadful in 2021. Last year, Ben Roethlisberger was forced to get rid of the ball very quickly and he wasn’t able to make many plays down the field.
This is certainly a two-way street. Though the OL struggled, Big Ben didn’t do them any favors as he was a statue in the pocket and wasn’t able to extend the play. That should change when Pickett is at the helm, as rolling out and extending the play is his specialty.
Additionally, Pickett does have some impressive young weapons to work with, and the team is suddenly very deep with offensive playmakers that include Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, Pat Freiermuth, Najee Harris, George Pickens, and Calvin Austin III.
Assuming the protection is better this year, Pickett isn’t going to have much of an excuse for not making plays considering the talent around him. On top of this, the Steelers should have an impressive defense led once again by T.J. Watt and Cameron Heyward. This alone should help keep Pickett competitive in most contests.
I do believe that going to a great franchise like the Pittsburgh Steelers gives Kenny Pickett a great chance to be a quality NFL quarterback. Obviously, there are some out there who believe this is an excellent fit.