T.J. Watt Gets Brutally Honest on Steelers Duo Kenny Pickett, George Pickens

Getty Kenny Pickett and George Pickens celebrate a touchdown.

Great recognizes great. No one is a better judge of talent than the talented ones. Halfway through his career, T.J. Watt is already one of the greatest outside linebackers ever to don the black and gold. He’s been dominating since his second season in 2018, making quarterback’s lives miserable with 13.0 sacks, 21 quarterback hits and 68 tackles (12 for loss). Watt also registered six forced fumbles, tied for second in the NFL, with his brother J.J. Watt leading the way with seven.

When the Steelers’ 2022 NFL draft class came in, Watt knew the top two picks of Kenny Pickett and George Pickens would turn heads.

“George Pickens is one of those guys that’s like, I don’t know if he really understands how good he is. It’s like, holy cow,” Watt told Peter King on The Peter King Podcast. “Some of the things that you see in practice. On top of that, it’s the little things like finishing plays. Running, he can run for days.”

A receiver is only as solid as his quarterback, and Watt was excited about the progression of their then-rookie signal-caller from training camp through Week 18.

“Kenny Pickett is getting better each and every week. Commanding two-minute drills back in training camp. You can just see the progression. Then you come to the Ravens game, down the stretch, where he was able to lead the team down the field. We just had a feeling that, Hey, we’re gonna score this. We’re gonna get on defense and we’re gonna win this game. So it’s just little things like that, that it’s all about gaining respect through teammates through work. And those guys came to work every day.”

Kenny Pickett, George Pickens Are a Dynamic Duo for the Steelers

Kenny Pickett didn’t win the starting job to kick off the 2023 Pittsburgh Steelers season, but eventually, he was given a helmet. And, as T.J. Watt pointed out, he improved each week. Heading into year two, though, expectations will be much higher.

Mike Tomlin preaches hard about “the second-year leap” demands of his youngsters no matter what round they were drafted in. He has a clear vision of what he wants from Pickett.

“It’s the second lap around the track,” Tomlin said on The Rich Eisen Show. “He’s no longer speculating in terms of what this business is about, what the job demands, what the challenges are, what the feel of the process is like, whether it’s getting ready for a season or getting ready for a week. He has all of that experience, and so I just think it’s reasonable for him to have significant growth in all areas with that understanding to be more engaged in the process and to have an opinion about the process, to lead more comfortably in his own voice.”

Pickens will be a key component in Pickett’s growth and vice versa. The dynamic duo had a ton of chemistry in 2022.

“George Pickens has got a chance to be a legit game-changer at wide receiver,” ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky said on NFL Live. “A scheme-changer that when defenses watch the tape, they go, ‘What are we going to do with him?’ If George Pickens can consistently play to the level that we saw glimpses of last year, we’re going to talk about a guy that’s going to go for like 100 catches, 1,400 yards and push 10 touchdowns. I think he’s that talented. If he becomes that, the Steelers will no longer be quiet in November, December.”

Seventeen months removed from Ben Roethlisberger‘s retirement, the Pittsburgh Steelers have the tools to be contenders again. The question is: Will they use them correctly?

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