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PFF: Kenny Pickett the 3rd-Best Offensive Player in Week 17

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Kenny Pickett drops back to pass as the Steelers face the Ravens on Jan. 1, 2022 in Baltimore. (Mitchell Northam / Steelers Now)

Pro Football Focus continues to be impressed by the play of Pittsburgh Steelers rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett. So much so that the king of football analytics gave Pickett the third-highest grade (92.4) for any offensive player in Week 17, behind just Tom Brady (92.6) and Atlanta Falcons right guard Chris Lindstrom (93.5). It was also the sixth-best mark for any quarterback in a single game this season and the highest grade for a Steelers quarterback since Ben Roethlisberger tossed four touchdowns against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 13 of the 2015 season.

Entering Week 17, PFF had Pickett graded as the third-best quarterback (84.0) in the NFL since Week 12, behind only Trevor Lawrence (88.1) and Joe Burrow (90.9). Pickett is certainly elevating and showing growth. The stats are not gaudy, but that’s not the end all be all. Toughness, grit, moxie, and competitiveness are important traits, too. Above all, winning matters the most, and that’s what Pickett has done in the second half of the season. 

Pickett showcased that on Sunday night by capping an 11-play, 80-yard drive with a 10-yard game-winning touchdown pass to Najee Harris to defeat the Baltimore Ravens and keep the Steelers’ playoff hopes alive. To boot, Pickett did this on the road in front a hostile crowd in primetime against a defense that hasn’t allowed a touchdown at home in the last 15 quarters. 

Pickett is thriving in the weighty moments, as Mike Tomlin likes to say. He became the first rookie in NFL history to have a game-winning touchdown pass in the final minute of the fourth quarter in back-to-back games. On his three game-winning fourth-quarter drives against the Colts, Raiders and Ravens, Pickett is a combined 17 of 21 for 174 yards with two touchdowns, no interceptions, and an impressive passer rating of 132.9.

Pickett is showing that he has the potential to be a future franchise quarterback. He’s far from perfect, but he’s a lot better than what the naysayers thought about him in the pre-draft process. Narratives such as that his “hands are too small to play in the NFL.”

Executive Director of the Senior Bowl Jim Nagy said it best. “Laughable what (the) pre-draft narrative on Kenny Pickett was all about. He’s that dude next decade for Steelers.”

 

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