Let’s Talk Quarterbacks: Kenny Pickett

Back with another edition of Let’s Talk Quarterbacks! Last week we talked about Carson Strong, which you can see here. But today we are talking about another fan favorite in this QB class: Kenny Pickett. Like most quarterbacks in this upcoming draft class, Kenny Pickett is a bit of a polarizing prospect in draft circles. I’ve seen him with some first round grades and I’ve seen him with some third or fourth round grades. But enough talk, let’s get into it.

The Good

Kenny Pickett is a four year starter at Pitt. Over that span, he put up fairly pedestrian numbers until this season, when he became a Heisman finalist. In 2021, the 6’2″ 225lb quarterback put up a stat line of 4,319 yds, 42 TDs, and 7 INTs through the air with another 241 yds and 5 TDs on the ground. But Pickett’s great season went well beyond the numbers. So let’s talk about it. One of the best things in Pickett’s game was a mastery of the spread offense that Pitt runs. In this offense you can see Pickett take shots at every level of the defense. Pickett has the arm that can test NFL defenses with the ability to sling the ball in between defenders while still having the touch to hit a good deep ball.

One aspect of Pickett’s game that could separate him from some other names in this class is his ability to take off and run. Pickett doesn’t really get schemed for a ton of designed runs, but his ability to sense pressure and know when to flee the pocket is incredible. When he tucks the ball down and decides to take off, he shows great speed and burst.

Mechanically speaking, Pickett is very technical. His feet and shoulders are constantly aligned. He has a very quick release and his base is always good and wide.

Here are some highlight clips of Pickett:

The Questions

After re-watching some of Pickett’s tape, there is less in this section than originally planned. But some of the original knocks are still there. His arm is good, but not great. He can create zip with his mechanics and motion, but the arm itself isn’t amazing. Some of his tape pre-2021 is tough with his decision making and accuracy, but that seems to not be as much of a concern in 2021. So I guess my biggest “Bad” with Pickett is if he regresses back to where he was in 2019 or 2020. Because if 2021 is a fluke, and just Pickett mastering the offense, he won’t be able to be that guy who steps into a starting role off the bat for teams. Which, granted, is a concern that can be applied to most quarterbacks in this class.

One major question mark with Pickett is his hand size. No one knows at the moment how big Pickett’s hands are. But if they don’t hit certain thresholds teams may take him off of boards.

The Skinny

So with Pickett there’s not a lot of bad obviously, but there are some concerns. Hand size, potential regression. But none of those should be major factors in Pickett as a prospect. Pickett should give a team a long-term average player at the position. Take that how you will, but that’s what you’re getting out Pickett, an average quarterback at the next level. Pickett has the ability to be a fit in almost any modern day offense and could run it well. I just don’t know if he will ever be “that guy”, but that same question can be asked for any other quarterback in this class.

Hunter’s Ideal Landing Spots

My dream landing spots for Pickett are:

  • New Orleans
  • Pittsburgh
  • Las Vegas

New Orleans and Pittsburgh both have established coaches and coaching staffs who will be able to help create a playbook and system that plays to Pickett’s strengths. New Orleans is also in desperate need of the heir to Drew Brees’ throne, and Pickett feels like a good fit for a Sean Payton offense. Pittsburgh is also on this list because there are rumors floating around that Tomlin wants the next quarterback to be more mobile, which Pickett can be. The Raiders are on here because I could see the Raiders potentially moving on from Derek Carr soon, and having a quarterback like Pickett waiting in the wings could be a wise move from the franchise that is entering a weird new phase.

Hunter’s Round Projection: 2nd Round

Follow Hunter on Twitter @hthompsonNFL.

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