Impressions of Rookie QB, Kenny Pickett
A new era dawns in the Iron City – one without Ben Roethlisberger commanding the huddle. Rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett made his highly-anticipated NFL debut during the Steelers' 24-20 home loss to the Jets in Week Four. Head Coach Mike Tomlin opted to bench Mitchell Trubisky, who went 7-of-13 for 84 yards and an interception in the first half. Pickett initially had a rough start (threw interception to Jets' Jordan Whitehead) but eventually guided the team to two scoring drives, becoming the first quarterback all-time with two rushing touchdowns in a debut. Pickett possesses functional mobility to escape pressure and throw from different platforms. Pitt's all-time leading passer shows composure working through reads and has the ability to throw receivers open. He was touted as the most "pro-ready" prospect in the 2022 Draft Class and now anchors the Steelers' offense. Behind the podium on Wednesday, Bucs' Head Coach Todd Bowles discussed his impressions of the young signal-caller in Pittsburgh.
"He's a very heady football player," Bowles stated. "He knows where his checkdowns are, he has a very good arm, [is good at] reading defenses, going to the outside or the inside. He can get out of the pocket and run pretty [well] if he has to. It looks like he has a good command of the offense, so we expect him to play well."
George Pickens Radar
Coming off a national championship season with the Georgia Bulldogs, the Steelers selected George Pickens with the 52nd overall pick (second round) to bolster the receiving corps. The dynamic wideout has both short-area quickness for short-to-intermediate routes and deep speed to stretch the field vertically. Pickens is comfortable catching the ball away from his frame and can win over the top with stellar ball-tracking skills. With fluidity at the stem of his routes and elite finishing skills, Pickens can become an offensive catalyst for the Steelers during his rookie campaign. He has already become a go-to target for Pickett off play-action and as repetition builds, so will Pickens' ceiling.
"He's a physical receiver, you know," Bowles stated. "They have two of them – [Chase] Claypool as well. He's going to jump and try to make great catches, which he's shown week-in and week-out – that's why he got drafted so high. He's tough, he was a tough player in college, he's tough with the Steelers. They got a good draft pick – they've got a potential Pro Bowler on their hands. He's going to be a handful to deal with."
Increased Workload for Rachaad White?
In 2022, the Buccaneers added another dimension to the ground game by selecting Arizona State's Rachaad White in April. Known as one of the shiftiest backs in the Pac-12, White's prowess has elevated Tampa Bay's ground game this season. With Leonard Fournette's power, straight-line speed and physicality, White's lateral agility to bounce runs outside provides a picturesque complement to the club's workhorse. He accelerates cleanly post-cut and has superb body control and pass-catching traits. White's explosive running style enables him to find yardage that was not blocked for him. He adds a new wrinkle to Byron Leftwich's high-powered offense, garnering notice from coaches and players alike.
"We're just trying to get him in and get him some plays," Bowles remarked. "When 'Lenny' [Fournette] needs a break, we don't feel like we lose anything putting Rachaad in there – we're happy about that. Getting him more reps – depending on how many reps 'Lenny' has – some days it will go high and low, some days it will go closer to the same. He's ready to play when we put him in there – Tom trusts him, the [offensive line] trusts him, he can catch the ball, he blocks well, he can run the ball. We don't have a problem putting him in."