2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Kenny Pickettby Jack Gaffney February 13, 2022 2 comments
Pitt has had no shortage of players to enter the NFL and proceed to have hall of fame careers. Dan Marino, Larry Fitzgerald, Darrelle Revis, and currently Aaron Donald come to mind. While maybe not on that level, Kenny Pickett has a fair amount of hype in this year’s quarterback class. Despite some concerns about him declining to have his hands measured at the Senior Bowl, he looked great on the field in Mobile.
In his first three years as a starter at Pitt, Pickett was nowhere near where he was in 2021. His production skyrocketed exponentially in his last year, going for 42 touchdowns and 4319 yards. This was good enough to get him third place in this year’s Heisman voting, and first in ACC Player of the Year voting. But with only one season of elite production on the record, how much will that hurt him?
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Name: Kenny Pickett
Jersey: No. 8
Class: ‘Super’ Senior
Weight: 217 lbs
Games Watched: Clemson (2020), Florida State (2020), UMass (2021), Tennessee (2021), Clemson (2021), Senior Bowl (2022)
Major Injury History: None
Arm Talent (14/15)
Pickett can make just about any throw. In addition, he puts good velocity on his throws at any level. He doesn’t have a Patrick Mahomes/Josh Allen-level arm but can throw an above-average deep ball. Although not the most accurate in that area, it should be passable at the NFL level to start. Moving forward is a different question, but Pickett should get better.
Pickett’s completion percentage increased nearly every year that he was in college. Peaking with a 67.2 completion percentage in 2021. In terms of the raw throws he made, there were some times where Pickett can be off. Specifically, this came up several deep passes, with overthrows on occasion, with some underthrows scarcely sprinkled in. Getting the ball in low was also a bit of an issue as well. As a plus, Pickett’s accuracy out of the pocket/on the run is excellent. There were several fantastic throws he made out of the pocket that showed up on film.
Decision Making (11.5/15)
If not for 2021, this grade would be much lower. In the 2020 Clemson game, for example, Pickett threw several interceptions, the majority of which were horrendous. One of which was a throw inside the numbers on a curl route, where his receiver has three defenders in his vicinity. Another issue is that Pickett didn’t always take what was given to him, namely checkdowns. However, there were also some situations where he had open receivers downfield and passed on said targets. Far less of an issue last year, but worth mentioning.
This is an area where Pickett has improved over time a good deal, but still isn’t perfect. While he still hones in one on target on occasion, Pickett has the ability to make secondary reads. However, on occasion, he can be late to pull the trigger on those, forcing him into bad scramble situations. Again, however, night and day difference from 2020 to 2021.
Pocket Awareness (7.25/10)
This is an area where Pickett can be Jekyll and Hyde-like. One play he knows exactly when it’s time to pass or tuck it and run. The next he could be holding the ball for far too long, alarmingly so, leading to unnecessary sacks. His awareness in the pocket has been a frequent criticism of his, perhaps his biggest flaw as a quarterback. To go even further, PFF had him down for the second-longest time to throw in college football. To his defense, however, Pickett did not always have the best protection to work with. Perhaps with better protection, this can improve in the NFL.
Pickett can make tight-window throws when need be. In addition, he does a good enough job to lead his receivers to the ball. However, not every throw Pickett makes is on the money either, more so being late than early when it showed up. Not his best area, but not his worst by any stretch either.
Out of Structure (9.5/10)
One of the great things about Pickett’s game is that he is not good, but great when he has to make it happen on broken plays. More than a few times, Pickett had the pocket break down quickly on him, forcing him outside. Luckily, he has the ability to create in those situations, both with his arm and legs. Look for this to translate to the NFL rather nicely.
Pickett’s mobility is a sneaky fantastic attribute of his. Not only does this apply to him passing the ball, but running it as well. Pickett has 13 rushing touchdowns and 378 rushing yards over the last two years. Not that impressive compared to guys like Malik Willis, Matt Corral, and Desmond Ridder, but what showed up was excellent. His ability to avoid sacks in the pocket, tuck it and run, or throw on the run should also do him wonders at the next level.
Not much to complain about with Pickett here. His throwing motion is excellent and the ball comes out with good zip nearly every time. Backfoot throws did show up, but not at an alarming rate. In fact, against Florida State, he nailed a 20-yard pass off his back foot on a seem route which feels worth noting. If the backfoot throws can be eliminated, this would have been a perfect score.
This quarterback class is interesting from the standpoint that any one of four or five players could conceivably be QB1. There are some things that can/will help and hurt Pickett’s argument. The fact he only had one truly good year in college will leave people skeptical. That one year was also exceptional and had him only behind Aidan Hutchinson and Bryce Young for the Heisman. There’s still much to like about Pickett, including his play outside the pocket, mobility, and leadership. No guarantee he is the first signal-caller off the board, but he has a chance.
Rookie Projections: Team Dependent Starter/Backup
Third Year Projections: Mid-Level Starter
Final Grade (85.5/100): Late First Round
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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images