I liked the way Kenny Pickett played late last year, going 6-1 in his last seven full games. He led those late-game touchdown drives to pull out wins against the Raiders and Ravens. I just wish he had thrown a few more touchdown passes.

Pickett started 12 games as a rookie and finished with only 7 TD passes. The Steelers ended the year with a league-low 12. Pretty putrid.

Playing around with the numbers some, that works out to a touchdown pass for every 343 passing yards. Since the merger in 1970, only five quarterbacks have averaged more yards per touchdown pass in a season. (Among quarterbacks with at least 2,000 passing yards).

Trent Dilfer is the runaway ‘leader’ in this category, averaging a touchdown for every 694 yards in the 1995 season – 287 yards ahead/behind everyone else.

1995Trent Dilfer, T.B.162,774418693.5
1991Jeff Hostetler, NYG122,03254406.4
1998Tony Banks, St.L.142,535714362.1
2011Sam Bradford, St.L.102,16466360.7
1975John Hadl, G.B.132,095621349.2
2022Kenny Pickett, Pitt.122,40479343.4
2004Kurt Warner, NYG92,05464342.3
1991Tom Tupa, Phoe.112,053613342.2
1991Hugh Millen, N.E.133,073918341.4
1986Steve Pelluer, Dall.92,727817340.9
1984Gary Hogeboom, Dall.102,366714338.0
2020Cam Newton, N.E.152,657810332.1
1991Ken O'Brien, NYJ163,3001011330.0
1992Browning Nagle, NYJ132,280717325.7
2007Joey Harrington, Atl.102,21578316.4
1993Jeff George, Ind.112,52686315.8
2017Mitchell Trubisky, Chi.122,19377313.3
1991Jim Everett, LAR163,4381120312.5
2006Brad Johnson, Min.142,750915305.6
2021Trevor Lawrence, Jac.173,6411217303.4
2010Derek Anderson, Ariz.92,065710295.0
2015Nick Foles, St.L.112,052710293.1
1991Jeff George, Ind.162,9101012291.0
1995Rodney Peete, Phil.122,326814290.8
1999Kerry Collins, NYG72,318811289.8
2001Matt Hasselbeck, Sea.122,02378289.0
2002David Carr, Hou.162,592915288.0
1996Gus Frerotte, Was.163,4531211287.8
1993Jim Harbaugh, Chi.152,002711286.0
1986Steve Young, T.B.142,282813285.3
2007Vince Young, Ten.152,546917282.9
1989Wade Wilson, Min.122,543912282.6
2021Sam Darnold, Car.112,527913280.8

While that’s a fun factoid to toss around (you know me: anytime I get the opportunity to post a chart with John Hadl, I’m all over it) the more meaningful question is whether Pickett’s play last year disqualifies him from possibly developing into a decent quarterback this year?

So let’s reframe the numbers a little bit. Instead of presenting a rundown of a bunch of struggling quarterbacks, let’s instead look at how they played in their next season. And with Pickett being a rookie, let’s focus it on first-year guys who struggled (how those guys then performed in their second season). And with the game changing, let’s look only at more modern guys.

Below, therefore, see the 20 quarterbacks who threw for at least 2,000 yards as rookies in the 32-team era and averaged over 200 passing yards per touchdown (the yard average is shown in the first column). The rest of the chart shows how they did in their second season.

Six of the players (tagged with black dots), turned things around pretty well, finishing with top-12 numbers using standard scoring. Josh Allen, Joe Burrow and Trevor Lawrence in recent years.

I’m not promising Pickett will be another Lawrence (and I’m certainly not putting him up with Burrow and Allen). But I think he played well enough to merit selecting as a second quarterback in a typical league. Not a guy I’m eager to draft (I don’t think he’ll be in my top 20 at the position), but somebody should be rostering him as a second quarterback. I would take him before Jimmy Garoppolo, Matthew Stafford, Kyler Murray and some others. I think it can be debated whether you’re getting taking Pickett or one of the rookies from this year (Anthony Richardson, Bryce Young).

2003David Carr, Hou.288.0112,013913163.827
2004Byron Leftwich, Jac.201.4142,9411510242.218
2007Matt Leinart, Ariz.231.556472444.652
2009Joe Flacco, Balt.212.2163,6132112270.317
2009Matt Ryan, Atl.215.0142,9162214244.719
2010Mark Sanchez, NYJ203.7163,2911713263.118
2013• Ryan Tannehill, Mia.274.5163,9132417321.512
2013Brandon Weeden, Cle.241.851,73199129.036
2014Geno Smith, NYJ253.8132,5251313208.126
2015• Blake Bortles, Jac.264.4164,4283518406.43
2015Teddy Bridgewater, Min.208.5163,231149256.824
2017• Carson Wentz, Phil.236.4133,296337334.78
2018Mitchell Trubisky, Chi.313.3143,2232412325.315
2018DeShone Kizer, Cle.263.101870213.354
2019• Josh Allen, Buff.207.4163,089209345.58
2019Josh Rosen, Mia.207.135671533.749
2021• Joe Burrow, Cin.206.8164,6113414392.47
2022• Trevor Lawrence, Jac.303.4174,113258370.87
2022Zach Wilson, NYJ259.391,68867131.833
2023Kenny Pickett, Pitt.343.4??????

—Ian Allan