Kenny Pickett: Season Grade

Kenny Pickett
(AP Photo/Matt Durisko)

Kenny Pickett became the starting quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2022. How Pickett performed over the course of the season was the biggest story in the Steel City. I kept a running log grading each performance, and now it is time to deliver an overall grade for the season. Thank you to anyone who followed along this season! Welcome to – Kenny Pickett: SEASON Grade

The 2022 Season

For the year Kenny Pickett was 245/389 (63%) for 2,404 yards with seven touchdowns and nine interceptions. Pickett also took 27 sacks on the season and had 237 rushing yards and 55 carries with three touchdowns.

The rookie QB had a classic “tale of two halves” this season, playing drastically different before and after the bye week.

I did not do a grade of the Week four game against the New York Jets, but to include that in the stats Kenny Pickett was 112/165 (67.88%) for 962 yards with two touchdowns and eight interceptions in Weeks 4-8. He took 12 sacks and had 98 rushing yards on 19 attempts with two touchdowns in that same span.

From Weeks 10-18 after the bye (which includes one missed game and just eight snaps in Week 14) Pickett was 133/224 (59.38%) for 1,442 yards, five touchdowns and one interception. He also took 15 sacks and had 139 rushing yards on 36 attempts with one touchdown.

While the completion percentage drastically dropped we saw improvement in the rest of those statistics after the bye week. There was also improvement in most of the key categories we covered throughout the season week in and week out.

Decision Making

The decision-making process got better for Kenny Pickett each week. Not only do we see that in the lower interception numbers, but we saw it on film with fewer turnover-worthy plays, more throwaways and more of a willingness to scramble.

Immediately after the bye week, Pickett was looking for opportunities on the ground (season-high 51 rushing yards) or chances to throw the ball away. This was also the week he started utilizing the middle of the field on slants and sit routes, instead of all of his target going to the sidelines.

Early in the season, Pickett was also glued to his first read. This often led to missed opportunities in other areas of the field. This was something that for the most part improved each week, although it did crop up again from time to time. It was in Week 13 against the Atlanta Falcons for the first time I could physically see Pickett’s head moving through progressions on tape.

Overall Pickett’s decision-making was much improved by the end of the season. And the one interception in his final eight games is a great indicator of that.

Pocket Presence

My number one concern for Pickett coming into the year was how he handled himself in the pocket. His tendency to drift back and right in college was something I was worried would follow him to the NFL. Aside from some isolated instances, this particular issue wasn’t a regular occurrence for Pickett this season.

There were some other pocket issues that popped up instead, but nothing too harmful in the long run. And most importantly it got better each week. I was impressed with Pickett in his first two games against the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills. In both games, Pickett stood tall and delivered clean passes in the face of pressure multiple times. Including taking a hit from Quinnen Williams and not batting an eye.

Past the bye week I already mentioned the scrambling we saw in Week 10. Well by Week 11 Pickett was scrambling not to run, but also to pass. He made a concerted effort to keep his eyes up while running in that game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

This all culminated in the Week 16 matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders. In this game, we saw Pickett extend the play out of the pocket, move around within the pocket and even climb the pocket, all with the intention to throw the ball.

There was a slight dip in pocket presence in Week 18 against the Cleveland Browns, who were able to apply pressure early and often. But overall it was a strong year for Pickett in the pocket.


Pickett’s accuracy came and went this season. He finished 23rd in the league in completion percentage at 63% among QBs with at least 300 pass attempts. The median percentage among this list was Kirk Cousins at 65.9%.

Pickett was regularly missing high on his incomplete passes. Which at least suggests and consistent issue that can be addressed in the offseason. There were multiple weeks where Pickett had high completion percentages (Weeks 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 16) but the game I was most impressed with was Week 17 against the Baltimore Ravens.

The Ravens’ defense was at full strength and one of the best defensive units in the league by the end of the season. Despite that, Pickett had his best game in terms of ball placement of the year. He threw passes in the perfect spots time and time again. Spots where his receivers could adjust to it, avoid defenders, have YAC opportunities, or be the only potential recipient. Most of, if not all, the incompletions were on 50/50 opportunities the defenders had to make a play on.

The accuracy wasn’t quite what I expected this season, but we saw enough of the good games to feel good going into next season.

Arm Strength

I think Pickett’s arm strength for right now is “good enough”. He’ll never have an arm like Josh Allen or Patrick Mahomes. But we saw a few deep shots this season and certainly short/intermediate passes with zip on them. It would have been nice to see more attempts deep down the field this year to further assess Pickett’s arm. But we’ll have to wait and see for 2023.


Pittsburgh finished 26th in the league in points per game with 18.1. They averaged 20.5 points per game from Week 10 on, which would have been 20th in the league this season. Pickett was 24th in passing yards among QBs with 300 pass attempts and last in touchdowns.

We could find more stats, but this is all you need to know. The job of the offense and quarterback is to score points, and Pittsburgh and Kenny Pickett were not very good at doing that.

Final Grade: C+

I worked out an average of my weekly grades for Kenny Pickett, and looked at the totality of the evidence above to come up with this final grade. A lot of the things I watched on film give me hope for Pickett moving forward, and compel me to give him a higher grade. But as I said above, the job of the offense and quarterback is to score points, and that did not happen in Pittsburgh this year.

I don’t put it all on Kenny Pickett. He showed a lot of signs of encouragement. The context of his first year helped bring his grade up. There was the awkward timing for first-game action, a limited offense and the late blooming running game. And while I wasn’t happy with his overall production or inconsistent accuracy, his improved pocket presence and decision-making are positives in the ledger.

TL//DR: Kenny Pickett Season Grade

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