Kenny Pickett already working on a second-year leap in improvement
Following Diontae Johnson on Instagram, Steelers fans were pleasantly surprised to see that the that the longest tenured receiver on the team is working out with Pickett.
As collegiate prospects turning into pro hopefuls turn their attention towards the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, several players joined up for unofficial workouts. Those Steelers confirmed to be working out with Pickett and Johnson include Mitchell Trubisky, George Pickens, Steven Sims and Cody White.
Some players may attend football camps or work with specialized trainers to gain a competitive edge in the spring. Ultimately, the specific details of Kenny Pickett’s spring workout regimen are unknown outside of a few shared photos and videos.
As a general rule, many football players, including quarterbacks like Pickett, typically engage in offseason workouts to maintain and improve their physical and mental skills. These workouts may include weightlifting, cardio exercises, agility drills, and practice sessions to fine-tune their throwing mechanics, footwork, and decision-making abilities.
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Steelers fans are already familiar with Pickett’s mental toughness, which can be traced back to his high school days, where he led his team to the New Jersey Central Group III semifinal game. His speed, flexibility, and ability to make non-standard decisions influenced his performance on the field, where he passed for 4670 yards with 43 touchdowns.
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Pickett thought long and hard about pursuing his career and academic path. As a result, he chose the University of Pittsburgh.
The start of his college journey was challenging for as Pickett spent most of his true freshman season as a backup to Max Browne and Ben DiNucci. In his second college season, Pickett started all 14 games, completing 180 of 310 passes. This time he acted as a full-time starter, which was another sign that he was doing everything right.
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In 2019, Pickett’s mental toughness continued to take shape as he made 12 starts and missed one game due to injury. Despite this unfortunate incident and the COVID-19 pandemic, Pickett showed outstanding athletic ability and a will to win even when circumstances were not on his side. (Many team members even called him Pitbull for his will to win and his lack of fear of opponents.)
Pickett used an extra year of eligibility to return as the Panthers’ starting quarterback in 2021. Despite leading Pitt to the ACC Championship, he would sit out the team’s Peach Bowl matchup with Michigan in order to prepare for the NFL Draft.
Pickett’s mental toughness continued to shine as the rookie’s stock rose from the day he was drafted, through every team workout in the offseason, including training camp and preseason games. Such was the impression he made, that many people felt he could start in Week 1. However, Trubisky was named the starter initially, before Pickett entered Week 4’s game against the Jets after halftime.
The amount of pressure playing in his first regular season game was coupled with the fan fervor of being a local favorite in the same college city. Fans were over the moon to see Pickett perform, and he delivered: somewhat.
Despite turnovers and team losses in early appearances, Pittsburgh righted their season following a Week 9 bye, where the Steelers would go 7-2 in their final nine games and narrowly miss the playoffs.
In those eight games (Pickett missed one of the nine due to concussion protocol) the rookie quarterback would complete 59.3% of his passes for 1,442 yards, 5 touchdowns and 1 interception. He would also rush for another touchdown.
As an older (24-years-old) and more mature prospect who won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and became a Heisman Trophy finalist in college, Pickett’s career is poised to shine bright in year two.
Despite the negativity surrounding the Steelers retaining offensive coordinator Matt Canada for another season, Pickett will not have to start over as other young, and unsuccessful passers have. He will have familiarity with the existing system and can continue to build upon his rookie season.