Beloved Steelers QB Gets Honest About Kenny Pickett’s Future

USA Today Steelers QB Kenny Pickett participates in OTAs.

Though it’s been a decade since Charlie Batch took a snap behind center, he remains very connected to his hometown Pittsburgh Steelers. And just like you and me, quarterback is on his mind — call it a force of habit.

Homestead native Batch, who played in the black and gold for eight seasons, has been studying Steelers rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett.

“I really liked his neck-up perspective. You could really see that the game slowed down for him [last season at Pitt],” Batch told Heavy’s Senior NFL Writer Matt Lombardo. “He’s always in command at the line of scrimmage, and it seems like he processes information really quickly.

“Now, it’s a matter of whether he can anticipate,” Batch explained. “Whether he can throw a receiver open, rather than throw to an open receiver at the college level, and that’s something that will reveal itself in the earliest stages of training camp.”

The NFL game comes at you at lightning speed, especially for rookie quarterbacks.

The game slowed down for Pickett, only in his fifth season at Pitt. The question now becomes, how long will it be before it slows down for him in the pros? That process starts in Week 1 of the preseason versus the Seattle Seahawks on August 13.

“Leading the Panthers to an ACC Championship, in one of the rare down seasons for Dabo Swinney’s Clemson Tigers is one thing,” Lombardo wrote. “Dissecting, slicing, and dicing NFL defenses with a razor-thin margin for error is quite another.”

Kenny Pickett was ‘Just Okay’

We all heard — over and over again — how weak the 2022 rookie class of quarterbacks was. And while the Pittsburgh Steelers selected him with their first pick, Kenny Pickett is part of that “weak” lot.

One AFC personnel executive shared his concerns for Pickett with Heavy’s Matt Lombardo.

“I thought he was just ‘okay,'” a rival AFC personnel executive told Heavy. “My biggest concern is he doesn’t have a strong arm.”

Do you know what other quarterback didn’t have a strong arm coming out of college? Tom Brady. Yes, you read that right. “Lacks a really strong arm” and “can’t drive the ball downfield” were two knocks against him that rang throughout every scouting profile.

This is by no means stating that Kenny Pickett will become the next Tom Brady — only to say that arm strength can be developed.

As impatient as we’ve become as Steelers fans, there’s nothing wrong with development taking time. Pickett knows greatness doesn’t happen overnight.

“To be consistent and play my game every day, Pickett told reporters on how to win the starting job. “I’m just focused on getting better; that’s a long way away, coming from where I was in spring and learning the offense. I just wanna compete and get better every day.”

“[Pickett] has a nice sense of timing, is fairly accurate, and has decent mobility,” the executive said. “If he starts, the Steelers better be sure his supporting staff can carry him.”

That support starts with the Steelers’ revamped offensive line. Not only will the unit need to allow Pickett time to make reads, but it’ll need to create holes for running back Najee Harris. After all, the run and pass games feed off each other. There needs to be a balance for Pickett and the offense to be successful.

Quarterback Battle for the Ages

For the first time in nearly two decades, all eyes will be on the quarterbacks as the competition kicks off in training camp on July 27.

“The battle between Pickett and Trubisky for who will get the keys to the black and gold Ferrari will be one of the most watched camp battles in the entire NFL,” wrote Lombardo.

The depth chart from offseason team activities (OTAs) of Mitch Trubisky, Mason Rudolph and Kenny Pickett will carry over into camp, and reps could be hard to come by for the rookie.

“I’ll say this because I understand that’s the elephant in the room,” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said in his July 26 press conference. “We’re not going to micromanage or overmanage this quarterback competition. The depth chart will not rest on every throw. I know that you guys will want to ask me every day and every throw, but we’re going to be a little bit more steady than that. I think it’s important from a leadership perspective to not overmanage it, to not be too impulsive, so that’s what I’ve relayed to those guys, and our actions will continue to display that mindset.”

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