Steelers Beat Reporter Offers Perspective on Kenny Pickett’s ‘Rough’ Start

Kenny Pickett

Justin Casterline/Getty Images Quarterback Kenny Pickett during the NFL Combine on March 3, 2022.

You only get one chance to make a first impression, and when it comes to NFL quarterbacks that first impression is often lacking. Consider the case of Patrick Mahomes, who was selected No. 10 overall by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2017. In December 2020, former Super Bowl-winning quarterback Phil Simms asked wide receiver Tyreek Hill to recall how Mahomes looked during the first week of his rookie training camp.

“I thought he was trash,” said Hill. “When he first got there, I was like, ‘This is who you drafted right here? This is who y’all drafted?’”

As it happens, Mahomes appeared in only one regular-season game in 2017, but the next season he was MVP of the league, earning first-team All-Pro honors on the strength of 50 touchdown passes and a 113.8 passer rating, according to Pro Football Reference.

So believe Mark Kaboly of The Athletic when he says that Kenny Pickett’s “rough” start to training camp is “not a concern right now.”

Mason Rudolph’s First Week as a Rookie Was ‘Much Worse’

Kaboly says it has been “quite obvious” through two training camp practices that Mitch Trubisky and Mason Rudolph are far ahead of Pickett, the latter of whom was selected No. 20 overall in the 2022 draft.

“It seems like everything is a tad too fast for Pickett, and he’s throwing to a spot and not to an open receiver,” says Kaboly, before noting that “Rudolph’s first week as a rookie was much worse. Some were questioning how he could’ve been so good in college.”

At some point, Pickett will catch up to Trubisky and Rudolph, and in at least one aspect of the game, he is already demonstrably better than his in-house competition.

“Pickett is easily the most nimble in the pocket. He is much quicker than both Rudolph and Trubisky and showed that Thursday,” concluded Kaboly, having already noted that Trubisky was 11 of 17 during practice No. 2, while Rudolph was 12 of 18 and Pickett 10 of 14, “with the caveat that a lot of the throws were relatively easy.”

Titans Try Out 2 Former Steelers UDFAs

In other news from Thursday, two undrafted free agents who originally signed with the Steelers had tryouts with the Tennessee Titans, as per the NFL’s daily transaction wire.

One was Shakur Brown, a cornerback from Michigan State, who was once viewed as a potential replacement for Mike Hilton and received a $25,000 signing bonus to sign with the Steelers in May 2021. Pro Football Focus (PFF) named Brown one of the five best rookie UDFA signings of 2021, while Lance Zierlein of paid Brown a compliment by saying that he “plays like an angry hornet.” But Brown didn’t make it to the final round of roster cuts last year and Pittsburgh made no effort to sign him to its practice squad.

The other defensive back who worked out for the Titans was Bryce Watts (Massachusetts), who in February 2022 described himself as the “BEST CORNER” in this year’s draft. NFL teams didn’t agree with that assessment, which explains how the Steelers were able to add him as an undrafted free agent in May. But he was waived injured after Pittsburgh’s rookie minicamp, and on May 23, 2022, he was waived with an injury settlement.

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