As a NFL Draft Profile – Kenny Pickett is an intriguing prospect ahead of this year’s draft. In his fourth year as a starter he has exploded in a big way and is the biggest riser at the Quarterback position. He has improved his stat sheet across all areas of his game. In the past year he has amassed 4319 yards as well as 42TD’s and threw for just 7 interceptions.
When I look at Pickett, I think of Joe Burrow with Justin Herbert’s hair. By no means am I saying he is identical to Burrow but he does play the game in a similar way to the Cincinnati Bengals Quarterback. They both have similar skills, physical tools and had similar college careers as both signed off with an outstanding final collegiate season to rise up draft boards when it mattered.
Height – 6’3
Weight – 217 LBS
40 Time – 4.76 Seconds
Broad Jump – 10’1
Hand Size – 8 ½’’
Out of high school Pickett was surprisingly a three-star recruit. He received just eight college programme offers before committing to the Pittsburgh Panthers. In his freshman year he spent the season in the backup role to Ben DiNucci, he did get an opportunity in the final game of the year which he took full advantage of as he upset the highly rated Miami Hurricanes.
In his sophomore year he was named the starter for the Panthers as he played all 14 games and passed for 1,969 yards and rushed for 220 yards for a combined 15 touchdowns. The following season he continued to show signs of improvement as he played 12 times and threw for 3,098 yards while rushing for 110 yards for a combined 15 touchdowns.
2020 was supposed to be the year that Pickett would explode onto the scene but a COVID disrupted season put the brakes on this, as he suited up just 9 times on the year. Pickett still managed to record just over 2,400 passing yards and rushed for 145 yards for a combined 21 touchdowns.
One more go around?
Kenny Pickett made the most of the opportunity granted by the NCAA for a further year’s eligibility as he exploded onto the scene. He had a career year when it mattered as he recorded career highs in completion percentage (67.7) passing yards (4,066) Passing Touchdowns (42) and his highest QB rating (117.4) – he became only the third ACC Quarterback to throw for over 4000 yards and over 40 touchdowns in a single season, the two before him were Deshaun Watson and Jameis Winston.
An impressive year led Pickett to First-Team All American and All ACC honors as well as being named the ACC Player of the Year and the ACC Offensive Player of the Year. He was also a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, finishing in 3rd place but he did win The Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award previously held by the Patriots’ Mac Jones.
Pickett has a gunslinger right arm which is as NFL ready as they come. He has a good velocity on his throw and a great ability to place the ball across all areas of the field. Not only does Pickett have a great arm but he also throws the ball with a good level of accuracy and is capable of playing excellent slant and can throw the ball in between zone defense often before a receiver is even open. The current NFL Quarterback must have good pocket awareness and this is something that Pickett has in abundance who can make plays out of nothing, he is a very good scrambler who uses his quick feet to his advantage to escape the danger.
Fans of the game forget that Pickett has a wealth of experience throughout his college career having played 51 games for the Panthers, this is actually more than fellow draft prospects Malik Willis and Matt Coral combined. Not only this but Pickett has done this in a very strong ACC Division, a division that saw 6 players selected in the first round at last year’s draft.
I have touched on Pickett’s accuracy as being one of the positive parts of his game but his ball placement can be a little up and down and he struggles to allow his receivers to gain much yardage after contact. Another part of his game that will need improvement at the next level is his decision making and his ability to read the defense as well as identifying the blitz, at times has looked a little nervous in the pocket when confronted by the pass rush.
A lot of the recent talk around Pickett is about his hand size. Yes this could prove to be an issue in the wet weather games but look at someone like Joe Burrow, he’s not done too bad so far!
Pre Draft Analysis:
Expected Draft Capital: Round 1
Predicted Landing Spots: Pittsburgh Steelers
A lot will depend on the free agency window. A team that will be desperate to address their QB situation is the Pittsburgh Steelers after the recent announcement of Ben Roethlisberger, and to be quite frank Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins aren’t the answer – not even for a year.
Pickett, who is a big bodied passer of the ball, has the blueprint of a certain Quarterback that suited up for the Steelers for the past 18 years. The romantic in me would love to see the former Pittsburgh Panther continue his legacy in Pittsburgh for the Steelers. It would prove to be a great landing spot for both, the Steelers have a potential franchise QB for the future and Pickett would be an immediate starter at Heinz Field.
-Luke Renton @MCRsBlue