Steelers HC Tomlin 'excited' as burgeoning franchise QB Pickett enters second season
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin remains thrilled about drafting quarterback Kenny Pickett to be the future of the franchise, highlighting his excitement heading into year two.
Pickett, 24, was the first quarterback selected in the 2022 NFL Draft, and the only player at his position to get picked in the first two rounds.
He ended up starting 12 games in his rookie season, and while he finished with more interceptions (nine) than passing touchdowns (seven), his team managed to go 7-5 with him under center.
Pickett's completion percentage of 63.0 was the 15th-highest ever for a rookie quarterback, and he showed off some impressive wheels, with 55 carries for 237 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.
He continued to improve as the year went on as well, recording wins in each of the last five games he played where he attempted more than one pass.
At the league's annual owners meetings on Sunday, Tomlin spoke about how impressed he was with the former Pittsburgh Panthers star, who shared a practice field with the Steelers during his college career.
"I'm excited about Kenny individually in terms of the growth that he's capable of making and, and what he's willing to do to realise that," he said.
"I think I'm probably more excited about that because I've just been around him intimately now for 12 months.
"There were some anticipation things because of the close proximity [in college] that we've all talked about quite a bit, but the reality of having worked with him for 12 months, it's just more evidence of what we should be excited about – his willingness to work, his professional approach, his maturity in processing. It's exciting."
There were questions about the Steelers' decision to retain offensive coordinator Matt Canada, but Tomlin said he is hoping the continuity and not forcing Pickett to learn a new offense will only be positives.
"I think it's reasonable to expect that [continuity] to be significant," he said. "But we'll have an opportunity to make it so."
Despite missing the playoffs in 2022 by going 9-8, it continued the Steelers' incredible streak of 19 consecutive seasons without a losing record.