A breakout senior season could translate into Pittsburgh's Kenny Pickett being the first quarterback taken in the 2022 NFL Draft. There are still plenty of people who doubt Pickett's ability to succeed in the pros, but the college resume speaks for itself, highlighted by his Heisman Trophy finalist 2021 campaign. It will be a surprise if Pickett isn't taken in the first round and he could end up going in the first 10 picks with several teams needing a quarterback.
Here's a look at why Pickett could hear his name called early on April 28 out in Las Vegas.
(This profile is one of 230 featured in the Athlon Sports 2022 NFL Draft Guide. With in-depth scouting reports on the top prospects, position rankings, and more, no source will have you better prepared for draft day. Purchase a copy online today, the digital edition for instant access, or look for it on newsstands everywhere.)
Kenny Pickett Draft Profile
The breakout player of the 2021 season. Pickett’s calling cards are accuracy, processing and the ability to make second-reaction plays beyond what his physical traits would suggest. The off-platform throws stood out last season, as Pickett showed a knack for extending the play, mapping the moving bodies and delivering accurate throws with requisite zip. He has enough mobility to do some damage scrambling, though he will typically keep his eyes upfield when moved off his spot. He’s not just an improviser; he processes quickly within structure and shows a good feel for making pre-snap reads and understanding what the defense is going to throw at him.
His arm talent is average — maybe even a bit subpar when you size up the starters across the NFL right now. Driving the ball outside the numbers will be risky, and some of the throws he fit in at the college level won’t be available against the speed of NFL defenses.
There’s a bit of a Joe Burrow feel to Pickett, considering the senior-year breakout, though he’s not quite at that talent level. Pickett’s ability to play on the move suggests he’d fit well in a highly schemed Shanahan-style offense, and he has the processing ability to fit in an offense that asks him to operate from the pocket. Learning what windows he can’t test will be a process, but everything is there for Pickett to become a quality starter.
Final Grade: 1st/2nd Round