Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Cam Heyward thinks people have judged quarterback Kenny Pickett too quickly.
Appearing in a episode of Ferrall Coast to Coast on SiriusXM Radio, Heyward said that Pickett is still growing as a player through his first two seasons, and pointed out that he himself did not start until his third season in the NFL.
“The scrutiny already for a quarterback is insane,” Heyward said. “You’ll get guys have never played saying that a quarterback should be this. And then if they’re not Pat Mahomes, as soon as they step on the field, they’re inconsistent.
“For me, there is growth. For me personally, I didn’t play my first two years. I started my fifth game in my third season. … I had to go through a growth in my profession. I don’t think we award people the growth in our league enough. I think there’s time to keep improving.”
The Steelers seem committed to giving Pickett another shot, as head coach Mike Tomlin and president Art Rooney II have said in their post-season comments. And while that may not be a message that is shared by all of the locker room, the team’s long-tenured captain and spiritual heart and soul seems to be fully on board.
“I think Kenny can be a heck of a quarterback in this league,” Heyward said. “For people to write him off right now, I think is [crazy].”
Pickett did improve from 2022 to 2023, putting up an 81.4 passer rating and a 5.29 adjusted net yards per attempt last season, up from 76.7 and 4.70 in his rookie season. He was an identical 7-5 in games he started, though Pickett didn’t finish three of those games in 2023 with injuries. All three ended up as Steelers losses.