A few days into his first professional training camp with the Pittsburgh Steelers at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, rookie first-round draft pick Kenny Pickett looked rather shaky overall, which wasn’t fully unexpected.
Despite being a mostly pro-ready quarterback that topped the charts in the 2022 NFL Draft, Pickett came out of the gates rather slowly in Latrobe while working with the third-team offenses. He looked timid at times, held the ball too long in others, and generally looked a bit overwhelmed overall, which was understandable.
Now though, a full week into camp and having a better grasp on the playbook and more rapport with teammates, Pickett is starting to show some of the traits that made him the first quarterback off the board in the 2022 NFL Draft. According to teammate Pat Freiermuth, who spoke with reporters Thursday ahead of practice, Pickett is starting to get comfortable with the scheme and his teammates, and is hopefully going to help the offense start clicking soon.
It’s not just Pickett either. That includes Mitch Trubisky and Mason Rudolph, all three of whom are in a battle to be the next starting quarterback for the Steelers when the black and gold open the regular season Sept. 11 on the road against Cincinnati.
“Oh, absolutely. I think by every day, like in the huddle, their presence alone, they’re all getting comfortable, especially Kenny,” Freiermuth said to reporters Thursday, according to video via Steelers.com. “Obviously he’s nervous the first couple days, but…he’s comfortable now and everyone’s just comfortable with the offense and hopefully we get clicking and going here.”
The nerves were certainly noticeable with Pickett, who has a lot of eyes on him as the intended future franchise quarterback. That is a lot of pressure, but especially so for the former Pittsburgh Panthers star who led the Pitt program to new heights under Pat Narduzzi in 2021 and earned a trip to New York City as a Heisman Trophy finalist before landing with the Steelers in the first round.
In his first training camp setting, things were moving a bit fast for Pickett, who looked like a rookie. That’s perfectly understandable and honestly just fine right now. It’s training camp, the Steelers have had just one week of practices, and Pickett is slowly starting to gain more reps with the second-teamers this week.
He certainly looks more comfortable this week in Latrobe, and has a better grasp of the offense and what reads to make in certain situations, which is nothing but positive for the rookie quarterback. As he gains more reps and grows more and more comfortable with his teammates around him, there’s no doubt he’ll start to show those flashes more and more.
It’s a long, slow process. Development with quarterbacks is not linear. Patience is needed right now for Pickett. That said, his teammates see he’s shaken off the nerves, and now it’s time to play football. Hopefully we see some Pickett to Freiermuth connections here soon in Latrobe and in the preseason.