Ryan Leaf Welcomes Steelers’ Kenny Pickett to ‘Low Membership’ QB Club

Ryan Leaf and Kenny Pickett

Stephen Dunn/Allsport; Justin K. Aller/Getty Images Former San Diego Chargers quarterback Ryan Leaf (left) and Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett.

On Tuesday a Twitter user who goes by the name StartKyleOrton tweeted out a “fun Kenny Pickett stat,” claiming that “with just 2 touchdown passes on 195 passing attempts (Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback) Kenny Pickett joins Jimmy Clausen and Ryan Leaf as the only rookie QBs ever to have at least 190 passes and a TD% of 1% or lower.”

Never mind for a moment that StartKyleOrton has his math wrong. By virtue of having two touchdown passes on 195 pass attempts Kenny Pickett’s touchdown percentage is 1.025%. And never mind that StartKyleOrton doesn’t provide a source for the stat that he is citing.

That’s almost beside the point, as his tweet soon got the attention of Leaf, who was the No. 2 overall pick in the 1998 draft, selected one spot after the Indianapolis Colts chose future Pro Football Hall of Famer Peyton Manning.

Ryan Leaf to Kenny Pickett: ‘Welcome to the Club’

Leaf — who is now 46 and currently serves as a college football analyst for ESPN, among other endeavors — offered up a hilarious reply.

“Welcome to the club, Kenny, having such a low membership we have some pretty cool perks. We have a zoom every Tuesday night, will (be) nice to finally have a 3rd member, so tired of hearing about Jimmy’s ND glory days!!”

Hilarity aside, Kenny Pickett can’t be happy to be mentioned in the same sentence as Leaf and Clausen. Long story short, Ryan Leaf has been described as “the biggest bust in NFL history,” a distinction he has chosen to embrace in recent years. In fact, earlier this month he launched a podcast titled Bust: The Ryan Leaf Story, in which he chronicles his rise at Washington State “through the journey from NFL stardom to drug addiction, and ultimately the floor of a State Prison.”

Of course, Pickett’s early NFL career bears no resemblance to that of Leaf, who is perhaps best remembered for screaming at a reporter in the San Diego Chargers locker room, an incident he recounted on The Rich Eisen Show in March 2019.

Ryan Leaf v. Jimmy Clausen v. Kenny Pickett

In addition, Leaf’s rookie passing numbers were far below those of Pickett, who hasn’t looked great in his first six NFL games but doesn’t scream “bust.” During his rookie year, Leaf completed just 111 of 245 passes over the course of 10 games and threw two touchdown passes against 15 interceptions for a passer rating of 39.0, as noted by Pro Football Reference (PFR).

Jimmy Clausen, who was a 2nd-round pick of the Carolina Panthers in 2010, might be a better comparison, though his rookie numbers also pale in comparison to those of Pickett. Clausen went 1-9 as a starter in 2010, completing 157 of 299 passes (52.5%) for 1,558 yards, with three touchdown passes and nine interceptions for a passer rating of 58.4.

This as compared to Pickett (2-3 as a starter), who has completed 66.6% of his passes (130 of 195) with two touchdowns and eight interceptions for a 68.8 passer rating, according to PFR.

Nevertheless, Pickett’s underwhelming performance to date has some fans — and media observers — already questioning whether he is “the guy” to replace Ben Roethlisberger long-term.

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