NFL

Kenny Pickett gets a big vote of confidence from one of his key receivers

Kenny Pickett is getting needed buy-in from his Pittsburgh Steelers receivers already.

Being a rookie quarterback is tough. It’s especially hard when you’re thrust into a starting role midseason and forced to figure things out on the fly. While Kenny Pickett’s 2022 rookie season didn’t start out in the best way, he eventually found his way and led the Pittsburgh Steelers toward meaningful football by the end of the season, throwing just one interception over his final eight games after throwing five in his first four starts.

While Pickett was learning how to manage an NFL offense and adjust to the Steelers’ playbook, he was also developing relationships with his teammates and balancing the personal aspect of the pro game.

The reviews on his character and performance from his teammates and coaches so far have been largely positive, and one receiver had nothing but positive things to say about Pickett and the future expected to come from him.

Pat Freiermuth sees bright future ahead for Steelers, Kenny Pickett

Speaking to Steelers.com, here’s what Pat Freiermuth said about Pickett, his rookie season, and what’s ahead:

“I think me and Kenny had a great relationship in our beginning stages of our careers here, and obviously there’s room for improvement. This offseason’s gonna be big for Kenny and the whole offense and skill position group. So we’ll be getting together and Kenny has to continue to find his little nuances in the offense too.”

Later, he said, “Kenny’s a hell of a quarterback and he’s the future of this organization and I’m excited for him to be my quarterback and be our leader.”

Freiermuth, technically a tight end, was the third-highest yardage receiver for Pittsburgh in 2022 with over 700 yards on 11.6 yards per reception. Freiermuth’s rookie season was played with Ben Roethlisberger, so he knows what a professional quarterback looks like and how it feels to work alongside one. For him to have high praise for Pickett after starting his career with a Roethlisberger is incredibly high praise.

Freiermuth increased his yards per game by almost 15 yards in 2022 compared to his rookie season and took advantage of an increased number of targets. Pickett and Freiermuth figure to be staple pieces of the offense for years to come.

There’s work to be done, to be sure. Pickett and the Steelers relied heavily on the run game to close out the season, as Pickett’s ability to create a threatening passing game wasn’t particularly strong. He was top 10 in bad pass percentage last year and 23rd in completed air yards per completion, both according to Pro Football Reference.

Remember, though, things don’t come together right away for rookies. Josh Allen had just 3.6 completed air yards per completion (Pickett was at 5.4 this season) and put up a league-worst 25.7% bad throw percentage in his rookie season. There’s plenty of time for Pickett to figure it out.

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