Kenny Pickett - QB - Pittsburgh Panthers
Welcome to the rookie profile for Kenny Pickett. Kenny Pickett is an intriguing prospect for this year’s draft. It’s safe to say that Pickett has exploded onto the national scene during his 5th year, seeing a huge increase in numbers across all areas of his game. Which is something we only see very occasionally the last of whom was the former LSU star and now Bengal, Joe Burrow. In both 2019 and 2020 Pickett threw for just 13TD’s and 9 interceptions however, Pickett has caught the Nation’s attention throughout 2021 racking up 4319 yards as well as 42TD’s and just 7 interceptions.
Height: 6′ 3″
Weight: 217 lbs
40-yard dash: 4.67s
3-cone drill: DNP
20-yard shuttle: DNP
Vertical Jump: 33.5″
Broad Jump: 121″
Bench Press: DNP
Somewhat surprisingly Pickett was a three-star recruit coming off his high school career. Throughout his high school career, he was a dual-threat quarterback seeing him thrown for 43 TDs and running for another 17 TDs. In 2017 Pickett opted for the Pittsburgh Panthers where he spent his first season backing up Ben DiNucci and Max Browne, however, he did get his chance in the final game of the season seeing him upset the then second-ranked Miami Hurricanes. Pickett became the starter for Pitt in 2018 and played all 14 games while passing for 1969 yds with a QB rating of 81.8. He improved a little more in 2019 throwing for 3098 yds with a QB rating of 82.2. Again in 2020, Pickett continued to show signs of improvement in a shortened season throwing for 2408 yds and an 85.0 passer rating.
2021 is the year in which Pickett exploded onto the national circuit and improved his stock in a huge way with career highs in completion % (67.7) yardage (4066 yds) and a QB rating of 117.4. Pickett was named as the ACC Player of the Year and also as the Offensive Player of the Year, He’s the first Pitt player to win both awards since James Conner did so back in 2014. Pickett is only the third ACC QB to pass for over 4000 yds and 40TDs in a season, the previous two were Deshaun Watson and Jameis Winston. This has seen Pickett now in contention as a Heisman Trophy candidate.
Pickett has a very strong right arm which makes him capable of making NFL throws rather easily. He can drive deep out to the sideline from the opposite hash whilst also having the ability to make plays in short windows between the closing defenders. He can easily zip to all areas of the field, showing very good touch on underneath routes to his running backs and receivers, as well as down the sidelines on the deep balls. Pickett has very good pocket awareness and can make big plays out of nothing, he’s a very good scrambler possessing quick feet to escape the pass rush. Pickett also has very good accuracy all over the field and is capable of playing excellent slant and between zone defenders before the receiver is even open. Pickett has seen a lot of football over his college career (51 games) which is more than fellow draft prospects Malik Willis and Matt Coral combined (50 games) – this brings a lot of experience to his market value and this is in a strong ACC, a division which boasted 6 first-round picks in last year’s draft alone.
As much as Pickett’s ability to make plays in tight windows, he also sees his receivers struggle to create more yardage after contact. Whilst his accuracy is very good his ball placement can be hot and cold as he tries too many tight window plays. At times he has struggled with his decision-making and pre-snap recognition abilities to read the defenses and see blitzes, looking very jumpy in the pocket when confronted with heavy pass rushes. He also possesses small hands in comparison to other prospects which will make wet weather games more of a challenge. After one very good year, it’s safe to say that this could be a huge roll of the dice and a lot will depend on how NFL GM’s view the ‘One good Year’ tag.
Pre Draft Analysis
Expected Draft Capital- Round 1
I don’t know if I’m going with my head or my heart here but I think that the Steelers would be the perfect landing spot for Pickett. Roethlisberger’s time in Pittsburgh appears to be coming to an end so who better to take over the throne than Pittsburgh Panther, Kenny Pickett. After Pickett’s terrific redshirt senior season this will put him on the radar with Mike Tomlin, also Pickett meets the stature requirements of being a big-bodied passer to continue the blueprint Roethlisberger has provided at Heinz Field for so long. Other obvious candidates who are desperate for a QB with early picks in the 2022 draft would also be the Carolina Panthers, Matt Rhule still hasn’t appeared to have found his Quarterback and this may be the year they look for a long-term franchise QB.
Post Draft Analysis
Pittsburgh Steelers- Round 1, Pick 20
In recent weeks it appears more and more likely that Kenny Pickett will suit up in week one as the Steelers starting QB. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has recently said ‘he has come ready-made and is a polished prospect’.
The fantasy value of Pickett will be one that requires patience when drafting him whilst he gets accustomed to the step up to the NFL. In the long term though, Kenny Pickett has all of the credentials to be a steady dynasty quarterback on a team with an extremely strong supporting cast.
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Image Credit: Bob Donnan – USA TODAY Sports