If yinz is anything like me, there’s no reason why at this point in the off-season, you shouldn’t be extremely excited about Kenny Pickett and the Pittsburgh Steelers heading into the 2022 NFL regular season. It’s been almost four months of unprecedented aggressive free agent signings, an intriguing minicamp, and of course, a shocking 2022 NFL Draft.
Whether you were on the Pickett train from the jump, just now purchasing your ticket, or still in need of some convincing, I’m here to tell you why Pickett is the correct choice for the boys in black and gold for years to come, and why you shouldn’t worry about some of the “negative” things you may have heard about him. Despite the pre-draft speculation of the Heisman Trophy finalist’s 8.5 inch hand size, the former Pitt standout is here to stay in the Steel City for the foreseeable future, and this franchise’s foundation is now set.
Are yinz still concerned about the first round pick’s 8.5 inch hand size moving forward? Well, here are 8.5 reasons why Kenny Pickett’s hand size shouldn’t bother Steeler Nation:
1) Kenny Pickett wears gloves
Fun fact, Pickett’s hand size was originally measured at 8.5 inches at the NFL Combine before the 2022 NFL Draft. But at Pitt’s Pro Day back in March, Pickett’s hands were actually measured out to be 8.625 inches. If that doesn’t make you feel any better, know that Pickett has notably worn protective gloves which can been seen all throughout his years in college. This not only gives Pickett additional padding on his hands, making them even slightly bigger, but it also allows the future face of the organization to better grip the ball during handoffs, while running, and of course, throwing the ball. It’s similar to another quarterback we used to know who occasionally wore gloves and had a deadly pump fake.
2) Kenny Pickett is a dual-threat
One more thing Steeler Nation can get excited about this upcoming season is that we’ll finally be able to see offensive coordinator, Matt Canada, unleash his full playbook. We now officially know that Canada was limited in his offense last season due to the team needing to run plays Ben Roethlisberger was most comfortable with; that didn’t always include what Canada had in mind. With Pickett being much more mobile than the 39-year-old Roethlisberger from a season ago, expect Pickett to utilize the lower half of his body much more than what we saw from this team in 2021 from the quarterback position. Whether it’s RPO (Run Pass Option) style play-calling, or simply making something out of nothing off the scramble, Pickett is guaranteed to make plays both with his arm, and his legs.
3) Kenny Pickett’s turnovers have diminished
Another concern pre-draft about the fifth-year senior was that Pickett had turned the ball over way too many times throughout his collegiate career. Not only did Pickett have fewer interceptions in 2021 (6) than he did in both 2020 (9) and 2019 (9), he threw the ball way more times in 2021 (497 attempts), compared to 332 in 2020 and 469 in 2019.
As far as fumbles, Pickett did fumble a whopping 38 times in his five years at Pitt, but only six of those came his senior year (only two lost while rushing). Expect this trend to continue to get better for Pickett as he enters an organization that ranks in the bottom half of turnovers since head coach, Mike Tomlin, took over the team in 2007.
4) The pressure for Pickett to start right away is off
One could argue that Mitch Trubisky is looking like the QB1 right now in Pittsburgh. Reports from minicamp were that Trubisky was the one quarterback who truly looked the part, was making all of the throws, and let’s be honest, the Steelers are paying him $14.285 million over the next two years, including a $5.25 million signing bonus. That’s a good chunk of change to just be riding the bench. I’m all for starting the season with Trubisky, allowing Pickett to continue to learn the playbook, get more comfortable with this offense, and yes, do whatever else it takes to get more familiar with an NFL-sized football.
5) Najee Harris
When Pickett’s name is finally called, the team won’t need the youngster to throw the ball 50 times per game. I believe this offense will actually be most successful through the ground, not in the air. Najee Harris is a player whose stock is on the rise, and if he can stay healthy, is a player the Steelers can ride the coat-tails of all the way to and through the playoffs. The pressure won’t be fully on Pickett, and he’ll be able to capitalize off of a superior running game through play-action passing.
6) The Steelers Defense
Similar to Harris, this new-age Steel Curtain will take the load off of Pickett. Now that both TJ Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick and locked up for years to come, this creates a solid and stable defensive foundation for the organization that will allow Pickett to seize opportunities created by not just the running game, but the defense as well.
7) Mike Sullivan and David Corley
Coaching in this league is huge. It normally separates two teams who are evenly matched and is the difference between winning and losing. With the addition of Steelers quarterbacks coach, Mike Sullivan in 2021, and the recently added assistant quarterbacks coach, David Corley, Pickett will have the necessary environment to continue to learn how to best protect the football while at the quarterback position. Sullivan previously served as the New York Giants‘ Quarterbacks Coach where he helped Eli Manning early in his career, and eventually helped him obtain a Super Bowl MVP award.
8) Notable hand size comparisons
If we look at starting quarterback‘s in today’s NFL, four QB’s stick out when it comes to comparable hand sizes to Pickett. Taysom Hill of the New Orleans Saints measured in at 8¾ inches, while Joe Burrow (Cincinnati Bengals), Ryan Tannehill (Tennessee Titans), and Jared Goff (Detroit Lions) all measured in at 9 inches. Between those four quarterbacks, there have been two Super Bowl appearances and three Pro Bowl appearances. Who’s to say Pickett can’t add to that list?
Considering retirement after I was informed the football will be slipping out of my tiny hands. Please keep me in your thoughts.
— Joey Burrow (@JoeyB) February 24, 2020
8.5) “The Standard is the Standard”
We all know that year in and year out, this team is built to compete. They’re always going to be competitive under Tomlin, and regardless of the circumstance, there’s no excuse acceptable that’s going to get in the way of the Steelers reaching their ultimate goal. Physical measurements also fall into that category, and at this point, the only thing stopping Kenny Pickett, is Kenny Pickett.
So what do yinz think? Still worried? Click to comment below!