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'I severely underestimated Kenny:' Roethlisberger says the sky's the limit for Pickett

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Since the last time Ben Roethlisberger did his podcast Footbahlin, Pittsburgh Steelers rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett led two game-winning campaigns to keep the Steelers’ playoff hopes alive. Now, having played in 12 games this season (11 if you don’t want to count the Baltimore Ravens’ first game), Pickett has released plenty of tapes for people to start drawing conclusions about his play.

One of those who have come to a conclusion is Roethlisberger. On his podcast today, Roethlisberger talked about how Pickett played really well, even better than he initially thought.

I severely, in my opinion, underestimated Kenny,” said Roethlisberger. “I think he plays the ball better than I thought, he runs much better than I expected and thought, his decision making is really good, his leadership, his toughness, [he has] just enough of an advantage for him, it seems. So I apologize, not that I did this vocal for anyone else, but in my own head. Kenny, keep doing what you’re doing because you’re leading this team and becoming the guy everyone expected you to be. I think the sky is the limit for him, really.”

I can imagine a lot of people were excited to hear Roethlisberger’s thoughts on the man who was enlisted to fill his big shoes, and we finally got them. Roethlisberger, like many, didn’t think Pickett was going to set the world on fire. Many people thought that Pickett didn’t have the best physical tools to be a very good quarterback, especially in today’s NFL with superhuman quarterbacks like Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen.

However, as he always did, Pickett came along and proved people wrong. On the season, Pickett has six touchdown passes, nine interceptions and has thrown for 2,209 yards. While these interception numbers are high, eight of them occurred before the bye week. Since Pickett came back from bye week and got more comfortable, his game has improved and he’s cut his losses. Since the bye week, Pickett has led four winning campaigns, showing he has the clutch gene like his predecessor. He is the first rookie to lead back-to-back game-winning drives, two mandatory games for the Steelers.

Roethlisberger said there’s still more to unlock with Pickett, and that what’s more important than this year is what he looks like in his second or third year.

“Now let’s see what year two, year three is like. That will be the key, in my opinion, as I said to really take the next step. But he is all of those things and even more than I thought he would be.”

While a bad rookie year or even a good rookie year is important, Roethlisberger is right about the second and third years being even more important. By the time a quarterback reaches his second or third year, you usually have an idea of ​​what he’s going to be. A recent quarterback who made an insane leap forward from second and third years is Josh Allen. Allen’s freshman year was tough, throwing 10 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. In his second NFL season, he threw 20 touchdowns and just nine interceptions, leading the Buffalo Bills to the playoffs. Your third year was insane. Allen threw for 37 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions en route to his first Pro Bowl appearance. If you only judged Allen by what he did in his rookie year, you’d think he was just another quarterback lost in the first round.

Now, I don’t want to compare the two or try to say that Pickett will be Allen. However, it confirms Roethlisberger’s argument that a quarterback’s sophomore and junior years are more important than the rookie year. Now, Pickett is on an upward trajectory, and hopefully he can follow that upward trajectory and become even better next year, cementing himself as Pittsburgh’s franchise guy.

“He is playing confidently now. He is in and out of him and his team.”

Roethlisberger, being an elite quarterback for nearly his entire career, knows what a good quarterback looks like. Him singing Pickett’s praises means a lot, and if he’s right and the Steelers have found their franchise guy, the team is in a good position. The NFL is a quarterback-oriented league, and it’s possible the Steelers have found theirs.

Check out the full episode below.