One of the main pre-draft stories last spring was Kenny Pickett's hand size, or lack thereof. Pickett saw the stories and apparently decided to take matters into his own hand.
Pickett, who was ultimately drafted by the Steelers with the 20th overall pick, actually increased his hand size prior to the 2022 NFL Draft. He said that his hand size increased from 8 1/2 inches at the NFL Combine to 8 5/8 inches by his pro day.
"I stretched them out a little bit," Pickett recently said on "The Pivot" podcast. "I was doing some exercises. ... I was trying everything I could. I was sleeping in a splint to stretch my hand out. I'll do whatever it takes. But like you said, it's something you can't really control. At the end of the day, I'm just going to go throw."
And throw Pickett did. Following a prolific senior season at Pitt, Pickett led the Steelers on four game-winning drives during his rookie season. After starting the year as a backup, Pickett finished the season with a 7-5 record as the Steelers' starting quarterback. His play down the stretch helped the Steelers finish with a 9-8 record while increasing the franchise's streak of non-losing seasons to 19.
In the process, Pickett showed that the size of his hands really didn't mater after all.
"I played in the second-coldest game in Heinz Field history against the Raiders," Pickett said while alluding to Pittsburgh's Christmas Eve win over Las Vegas. "We won in a two-minute drill, so we did alright."
Along with addressing last year's hand size drama, Pickett also shared some of what transpired during the draft. He said that the Panthers, Saints, Lions had expressed interest in selecting him in the first round. Pickett added that one team that was devoid of a first-round pick had also expressed interest in drafting him.
"Indy was talking about maybe coming back up and getting me if they could make a trade," Pickett said. "There were plenty of options; I had no clue where I was going. I just kept watching the picks go by. ... We knew the Steelers were at 20, and that was one of my favorite places, obviously."
Pickett was happy to be drafted by the Steelers, where during his time at Pitt he had a front-row seat to watch Ben Roethlisberger during his final seasons as Pittsburgh's quarterback. Pickett said that experience undoubtedly helped him become a better quarterback.
"The run he had with AB and Le'Veon and stuff, Heath Miller, Martavis Bryant. Those games, those guys were playing at different levels," Pickett said. "I was at Pitt and I was able to see it every day. You could sit on the side after workouts and just watch them and watch the timing and watch when the ball comes out before guys break. … I saw how it was supposed to be done from Ben."
Pickett, who said that he has spoken with Roethlisberger as well as Terry Bradshaw since being drafted, hopes to follow in their footsteps during his time with the Steelers.
"Just two guys who did it at a really high level," Pickett said of the two quarterbacks who played a role in each of the franchise's six Super Bowl wins. "Hopefully I have half the success that they had. ... I have two great guys to chase. I'm excited to get going."