The Pittsburgh Steelers spent their top pick of the 2022 NFL draft on quarterback Kenny Pickett. Starting his first NFL game in Week 5, the Steelers got Pickett into the line up early in his rookie season. But how much did they give him free reign within the offense?
There have been plenty of reports about how the Steelers kept the kid gloves on the rookie quarterback in 2022. And it’s not that it was a bad idea. The last thing you want to do is put too much on a player’s plate and set them up for failure before their career can get going. When developing top picks from the draft, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
But now that it’s year two, it’s time for the kid gloves to come off. Both pairs. (Sorry, I couldn’t help it.)
Now the reports about Kenny Pickett are about him all but living at the facilities where he’s working out and watching film from sunup to sundown. After getting 12 starts under his belt his rookie season, it’s time to move the progression to the next level, and the jump should be significant.
So if the Steelers are going to open things up more with the offense in 2023, what do Steeler fans want to see the most from Kenny Pickett? Obviously, the answer is winning football games. But in order to be successful, what’s the biggest thing to get there?
I know, there will be plenty of those who want to answer the question by throwing the Steelers current offensive coordinator under the bus. Whether or not this should be true is not what we’re getting into today, so let’s remove the offensive coordinator from the equation. Instead, let’s look at Kenny Pickett‘s progression as an NFL player and where the growth should be seen in his second season.
I’m sure others who can’t come up with something substantive about the topic will take shots at the offensive line as well as well as the coordinator. Just remember, if that’s what it takes to interject something into the discussion other than the topic at hand, it’s probably because they don’t have anything worthwhile to add to the conversation otherwise. Yes, improvement from the offensive coordinator, offensive line, and receivers can help Kenny Pickett immensely. But what is something Pickett can do directly to improve his game this season?
To start, I’ll go ahead and answer the question for myself. What I want to see the most from Kenny Pickett heading into his second season is his ability to dissect the defense and change the play at the line of scrimmage. During the offseason Pat Freiermuth talked about how the Steelers didn’t have hot reads last year. Hopefully this is something they add into the offense for 2023. Can the young quarterback interpret what the defense is showing and change the play appropriately, whether it be a hot read or something completely different? That’s what I want to see from Kenny Pickett in his second year in the NFL.
One thing to keep in mind as the Steelers hopefully open things up with Kenny Pickett more in the second season is that the “growing pains” struggle could reemerge. It was expected for Pickett to have some setbacks when he first started with the Steelers last season. If the Steelers are going to open up more of what they can do with Pickett, there still might be a time of acclamation early in the season as he takes on more of these things. It’s just something important to keep in mind.
So now it’s up to you. What do you want to see the most from Kenny Pickett in year two? Is it something new or do you want to see something from last season taken to the next level? Make sure you leave your thoughts in the comments below.