The oddsmakers in Las Vegas and numerous national media pundits are sleeping on the Pittsburgh Steelers heading into the 2023 season, but Kyle Brandt of “Good Morning Football” certainly is not. He thinks the Steelers are flying under the radar and that Kenny Pickett will enter the elite quarterback discussion this season.
“There’s a team, and I swear they still exist. They don’t really have a high glamorous draft pick, they weren’t in the playoffs last year, but I swear the Pittsburgh Steelers still exist,” Brandt said. “I don’t know if we’ve mentioned their name since December. I don’t know if we’ve talked about this guy, but I’m into Kenny Pickett. I’m developing sort of a football crush on Kenny Pickett.”
Pickett struggled mightily early in his rookie year. In his first six games, Pickett threw just two touchdown passes on 195 passing attempts, joining Jimmy Clausen and Ryan Leaf as the only rookie quarterbacks ever to have at least 190 passes and a TD% of 1% or lower. That’s definitely not good company to be a part of. Fortunately, Pickett turned things around and led the Steelers to a 6-2 record down the stretch, posting a 5-1 touchdown-interception ratio in that span. He also became the first rookie quarterback in NFL history to engineer a game-winning touchdown pass in the final minute of the fourth quarter in back-to-back games (Week 16 against the Las Vegas Raiders and Week 17 against the Baltimore Ravens).
“Guys, I like Kenny Pickett. And I know (the Steelers) aren’t super sexy and it’s not (Joe) Burrow, (Josh) Allen and (Patrick) Mahomes. How cool would it be if in that crazy AFC quarterback fray, another challenger arose? And we’re like, ‘Wow, Pickett’s really slinging it. And it’s got Pickett to (George) Pickens. I like what they did last year,” Brandt said.
Brandt thinks there hasn’t been any national media attention on Pickett this offseason, which he finds head-scratching.
“If you google Kenny Pickett right now, there’s just nothing,” Brandt said. “There’s no story, there’s no Instagram post, there’s no tweet, there’s no cool thing of him working out with teammates. It’s Mike Tomlin saying, ‘We’re excited about his second year.’ It’s so Pittsburgh, it’s just perfect — low-key, workman-like. I love how he finished the year, I love how he is going to start next year.”
In contrary to what Brandt said, Pickett did workout with numerous Steelers skill players in South Florida in March. His personal quarterback coach Tony Racioppi has also posted clips of their workouts regularly on Twitter this offseason, including this deep pass by Pickett that displayed his arm strength. To Brandt’s point, however, Pickett hasn’t really been receiving a lot of national attention.
“If you’re looking for someone to be like, ‘Wow, what the hell, I didn’t see Kenny Pickett.’ … I do,” Brandt said. “I got stock right now. If you want some, it’s there to be had. All the stock for these other guys is gone. If you had Jalen Hurts stock in the beginning of last year, God Bless you, you have an eight-bedroom mansion now. I have Pickett stock. I like him. I like the way he conducts his business. I like what Pittsburgh is doing, very quietly, around him. (The Steelers have the) 17th pick. No one is talking about it. I like Pickett.”