clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Is Kenny Pickett the cream of the 2022 quarterback crop?

For teams looking for the next quarterback, is Kenny Pickett the ultimate answer?

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of many NFL organizations who could be looking at a quarterback in the upcoming 2022 NFL Draft. However, unlike the other franchises who are looking to add to their current quarterback depth chart, the Steelers possess the 20th overall pick.

Not really conducive to having your pick of the proverbial litter, when it comes to the quarterback position.

The 2022 group of quarterbacks has left many shaking their heads, wondering whether this crop of quarterbacks is truly worth a high draft pick. The big name quarterbacks will have plenty going in the first round, leading to the question of who will be available when the Steelers select 20th. That is, assuming the Steelers don’t trade up to get a quarterback they feel is the future of the franchise.

With the University of Pittsburgh having one of their best seasons in the last decade last season, Pickett was on display for all to see. Whether it was him leading the Panthers to an ACC title, or his fake-slide which was hotly debated around the sports world. Kenny Pickett made himself a household name. Considering Pitt shares a facility with the Steelers, assumptions were immediately made regarding the team potentially drafting Pickett.

We all know the Steelers will want to add to their quarterback room, but will it be in the draft, or via Free Agency? As of right now, the Steelers could be poised to take a quarterback, but who knows if Pickett, or any number of other quarterbacks will be available in the first round.

Don’t listen to me, or anyone else, form your own opinion on Pickett. I plan on doing this for other prospects as the draft approaches. If there is a specific player you’d like to see covered, simply let me know and I’ll be glad to put it together!

Let us know your thoughts on Pickett in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the new league year, NFL Free Agency and the 2022 NFL Draft.


Draft Profiles

Pro Football Network

  • Position: Quarterback
  • School: Pittsburgh
  • Current Year: Redshirt Senior
  • Height: 6’3 1/4″
  • Weight: 221 pounds
  • Wingspan: 72 6/8″
  • Arm: 30 5/8″
  • Hand: N/A

Pickett has a wealth of experience on the college football stage — more than most quarterbacks that suited up this year. He was regarded as a serious 2021 NFL Draft prospect in 2020 but chose to return to school for his redshirt senior season. It was an excellent decision by Pickett to bet on himself. He came into the year with 39 career passing touchdowns, and more than doubled that number in a Heisman finalist campaign.

Pickett has long been a mainstay for the Pittsburgh Panthers and ACC football, in general. But now, the Pickett experience will be gone from college football, and the Pitt QB will make the long-awaited leap to the NFL. We know how exciting Pickett was as a college football signal-caller, but does he have the upside to be a successful NFL starter?

Pickett’s physical profile

Let’s start with Pickett’s physical tools, where the Pitt QB is surprisingly well-equipped. Standing at 6’3″, 220 pounds, Pickett is a very good athlete with a strong frame. With his mobility, he can sidestep rushers, escape the pocket, and produce on the ground. He also has elite competitive toughness. Pickett is clutch in crucial moments, and he plays through injuries, putting it all on the line each Saturday afternoon.

Even more so than Pickett’s athleticism, however, his arm demands attention. The Pitt QB has a crisp, compact, and efficient throwing motion, which easily generates velocity. With this velocity, Pickett leads receivers downfield and pushes the ball past defenders. He also fits the ball into tight spots and has the elasticity to adjust his trajectory and ball placement. His arm strength isn’t elite, but he has good arm talent overall.

Going further with Pickett’s elasticity, he flashes the ability to adjust his arm angles on throws. Pickett generates velocity off-platform and delivers accurate throws on the run. Even off his back foot, he creates impressive momentum. Furthermore, he can methodically place balls according to receiver leverage downfield, and he improved his consistency in this area in 2021.

The Draft Network

Kenny Pickett is an experienced and accomplished quarterback that had a meteoric rise in 2021, elevating his draft stock significantly along the way. A four-year starter, Pickett leaves Pittsburgh as the school’s all-time leading passer and he re-wrote the record books. Pickett brings good size, mobility, accuracy, poise, toughness, and leadership to the table. He is a terrific vertical passer that can work off-script and make things happen with his legs. He has terrific command and confidence running the offense and does a wonderful job of blending an aggressive mentality with consistently working his progressions and generally making good decisions with the football. His ascension as a prospect wasn’t due to a new offensive coaching staff or influx of talent around him. He’s had the same offensive coordinator since 2019 and a modest supporting cast. Pickett’s own improvements as a player and mastery of the system are the reason why he elevated his game. The system he ran didn’t include cheap production in the form of manufactured throws, Pickett simply worked his progressions and dealt all season long en route to a historically good campaign. His process is synched up and coordinated, his upper and lower half are in usion, and he does a great job of getting himself aligned to throw the ball with consistency. He navigates the pockett and appears unbothered by chaos around him. When it comes to areas of concern entering the next level, his small hands and reconciling his elite 2021 season against a considerably large sample size of modest play is something to be considered. Pickett will also turn 24 before the start of his rookie season. While Pickett showcased good ball placement in 2021, there are some misfires and the ball can sail on him. In addition, he is guilty of aggressive decisions both in terms of slotting throws but also in how he navigates the pocket and addresses pressure. If 2021 is an indication of what Pickett can be moving forward, then there is no doubt about his ability to become a franchise quarterback in the NFL. With that said, blending all the layers of the evaluation together makes Pickett an interesting case study.

Ideal Role: Starting quarterback

Scheme Fit: Spread

Walter Football

Strengths:

  • Accurate passer
  • Tremendous pocket composure
  • Excellent decision maker
  • Fits passes into tight windows
  • Superb ball placement
  • Throws a very catchable ball
  • Can throw receivers open
  • Beats good coverage with accuracy, placement
  • Excellent timing
  • Leads receivers for more yardage after the catch
  • Able to loft in touch passes
  • Advanced field vision
  • Moves eyes through progressions
  • Quality arm
  • Can push the ball vertically
  • Phenomenal deep-ball accuracy
  • Can fire fastballs into tight windows
  • Good internal clock
  • Mastered his offense
  • Ball security
  • Mobility
  • Difficult to sack
  • Keeps his eyes downfield while scrambling
  • Can hurt defenses on the ground
  • Dangerous to pick up yards on the ground
  • Good height
  • Thick build for the next level
  • Good fit for a west coast offense
  • Rhythm thrower
  • Intangibles
  • Leadership
  • Student of the game
  • Leadership personality
  • Great preparation skills
  • Tough; plays injured
  • Hard worker

Weaknesses:

  • Good skill set, but not elite
  • Smaller hands, wears gloves
  • Can have a couple of mistaken decisions per game
  • One year wonder
  • Inconsistent anticipation
  • Inconsistent instincts passer

Player Comparison: Joe Burrow/Derek Carr. Pickett is kind of a unique prospect and did not have an easy carbon copy comparison. In terms of arm talent, accuracy, and generally a couple mistakes a game, Pickett reminds me of Carr. From a mobility, toughness, and character perspective, Pickett reminds me of Burrow. Both are good NFL starters so being a mix of the two is not a bad thing.

NFL Draft Buzz

SCOUTING REPORT: STRENGTHS
  • Possesses a good right arm and is capable of making most NFL throw easily. Can drive the deep out to the sideline from the opposite hash and has no problem threading the needle between closing defenders. Easily zips to all areas of the field, demonstrating very good touch on underneath routes to running backs and receivers, as well as down the sideline on deep passes.
  • He is second in Pitt history in single-season touchdown passes to Dan Marino (37 in 1981) and Rod Rutherford (37 in 2003)
  • Pickett has good pocket awareness and is confident in his abilities
  • Good arm strength and can easily make all the NFL throws with effortless deep passes.
  • Moves well has quick feet and can escape a pass rush - good scrambler
  • He has shown patience in taking the check-down throws when necessary and has good zip on his throws
  • Good zip and ball placement on the quick slant. Good touch down the seam and on post-corner, flag routes to attack the defense vertically and horizontally.
  • Sticks throws into tight windows over the middle, throwing to spot on slant or between zone defenders before the receiver is open.
  • Flashes good accuracy to all levels of the field and has the arm strength to make every requisite NFL throw.
SCOUTING REPORT: WEAKNESSES
  • Too often fails to give receivers a chance to make a play after the catch - has been inconsistent early in his college career
  • Needs to improve his touch at all levels and know when to gun it and when to take something off his throws. Accuracy is solid, but far from great with streaky ball placement downfield as he tries to thread the needle too much.
  • Has struggled with his decision-making and needs to improve his pre-snap recognition skills to read defenses and see blitzes. Doesn’t decipher information as quickly as you would like, but does see the entire field and understands coverage.
  • Has looked jumpy in the pocket when confronted with a heavy pass rush
  • Arm strength was underwhelming at the senior bowl - raised some red flags
  • Has small hands which can make throwing in the rain a struggle
  • Unconventional elongated throwing motion
  • Marginal height, which will prove more of a detriment in an offense that asks him to drop back from center more often

Breakdowns / Highlights


Game Film