The 2022 NFL Draft class at QB is not something that many fans believe is truly special. What upside there is lies in a few QBs, including Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett, the most pro-ready QB in the draft. If he lands in the right scheme, his upside would be that of a Derek-Carr-type player.
Pickett had a monster season in 2021, throwing for 4,319 yards, 42 TDs, 7 INTs, 233 rushing yards, and averaging 8.7 yards per attempt. Pickett struggled in the four years prior to 2021, which leads to hesitancy that he’s a true #1 QB special.
Kenny Pickett will be the first or second QB taken in this draft.
Tale of the Tape
- School: Pittsburgh
- Year in School: RS Senior
- Height: 6’3”
- Weight: 217 lbs
As you can see, Pickett struggled for four years until he finally made some adjustments. He changed how he plays football. You can see a dramatic increase in his stats from 2020 to 2021. It helped that he got some playmakers at WR in 2021 and had the same Offensive Coordinator for a few years in a row.
Ultimately, Pickett improved as a player by developing a mastery of the offensive system. The system didn’t include manufactured throws, but Pickett learned progressions. Doing this allowed him to have a Heisman-caliber season. His throwing process is synched up and coordinated. His Upper/Lower halves are united in one motion.
He does an excellent job of aligning himself to throw the ball consistently. Playing against Clemson and other tough pass-rushes, he’s used to moving around the pocket and can climb it or get out of it to make a throw. The chaos isn’t unnerving to him.
Two amazing games he had were against Clemson and Miami this past year. Against Clemson, he threw for 302 yards with 2 TDs and 0 INTs while completing 25 of his 39 pass attempts, displaying complete mastery of the offense. He dominated from start to finish and left no doubt of his ability against a tough defense.
A week later, Kenny would step it up another notch. Against Miami, he threw for a massive 519 yards with three TDs and two INTs. He completed 39 of an insane 55 pass attempts. Over the course of the season, he threw for over 300 yards EIGHT times. Eight times was also the same amount of games he threw over three TDs.
Pickett displays a great ability to throw into any type of coverage with the above being in zone coverages. He laces the ball through the defense to the TE who’s running. It’s a perfect throw and gives me confidence in Pickett’s ability and belief he can make any throw.
Pickett displays a remarkable ability to stand in the pocket and make throws. In this play, he sees that a rusher is running right at him. Instead of panicking or running, Pickett stands his ground and delivers an excellent and accurate throw to his WR. You can even notice him making his progressions and observing which WR was open. He scans the field while noticing how close the rusher is getting. Pickett isn’t afraid to get hit in order to make a good throw.
Another solid play by Pickett where he maintains his composure and lets an edge rusher get close to him before unleashing a fastball to his TE for the easy TD. It’s a great little play that you see all the great NFL QBs make easily. Pickett does it easily too. It’s an awkward arm angle and he still makes the pass. These small things are what help him be a potentially really good QB.
Pickett has a Good Deep Ball
In this two-part gif, there are two equally exciting things happening. The first scene is Kenny Pickett going out into the flat moving the pocket. He makes a super accurate throw where only his WR can make the catch. It’s a tight spiral that is perfectly placed. We see a terrific deep ball from Kenny in the second half or part. He throws a perfect touch pass deep into the only spot that his WR can make the catch. The ball is placed as well as if Carr threw it. Pickett throws it off his back foot and drops it right over the defender. Impressive indeed.
I hear that Pickett can’t throw deep or that his arm is weak. It’s true that he doesn’t have an Aaron Rodgers or Patrick Mahomes arm. However, he has plenty of arm strength to make 98% of any throws a QB has to make. Just look at the play above where Pickett throws the ball with ease nearly 40 yards down the field. Yes, it could’ve been thrown a bit further so the wideout didn’t have to slow down. On the other hand, I like that Pickett made sure the WR could catch it. He wasn’t throwing it too far to where the WR had to rush to catch it. Pickett didn’t throw it behind him. Then, he threw it right to him on the run. I see no issues with his arm.
Athletic / Mobile
Here, Pickett chooses to run instead of throw and gains a first down while protecting himself from sliding. He makes an intelligent decision and picks up a valuable first down.
I absolutely love the play above. Pickett shows the ability to escape a collapsing pocket, run to his right, and deliver a cross-body accurate throw. It’s a fantastic display of a QB acting like a vet QB (Derek Carr Jr?) and making winning plays. Then, in the second play, Pickett quickly realizes that the play isn’t there, so he takes off running for a few more yards. It’s obvious he has football smarts. He protects the ball and isn’t going to lose yardage.
This play is another example of how hard it is to sack Pickett. He breaks an arm tackle and then manages to rush and dive for the first down. He isn’t afraid of contact and is willing to do what it takes to get the first down. This shows his teammates that he is a leader that does what he expects his teammates to do. It’s just a good football play.
I really like this play as it shows us Pickett being run out for a throw. The pocket moves to the right and so does Pickett. He is able to deliver a deep, accurate throw on the run to the WR in the endzone. The WR was covered well too which shows just how good Pickett’s arm and accuracy are. He fits that ball into a tight window over the defender where only the receiver can get it. Doing that against a tough Clemson defense is all the more impressive.
Knows When to Throw it Away
In the play above, Pickett shows great agility, the ability to know when to throw the ball away, and not to force a throw. Too often, you see young QBs try to make a play when there isn’t any. Instead of making a bad throw that could end in an interception, Pickett wisely steps out of the pocket and chucks it out of bounds. It’s important to note him stepping out of the pocket so that he would avoid a penalty. He is older for a rookie QB at 24, but still shows a good fortitude of mentality skills.
I’m not including a video here as you can see any play of Pickett’s and he has gloves on. Traditionally, no QB besides Vick with less than 8.5-inch hands has made a huge impact in the NFL. Yet, I’m not sure any of them has been as talented as Pickett, nor am I convinced that he will indeed be affected by his hand size other than fumbles. If he is drafted into a dome or warm weather stadium, I’m not worried about it at all, and he played just fine in Pittsburgh, a freezing environment for football. He fumbled a bit too much but still, put up great stats. A good O-line will prevent a lot of those fumbles.
Another issue that many people take with him is that he only has had one great college season. However, I don’t get why people call that out like it’s a bad thing. There have been tons of good NFL QBs with only one year of excellence. The most recent is Joe Burrow who put on a historical display, but, prior to that, Burrow couldn’t even start at Ohio St. It’s not fair to point the one-year greatness out for Pickett as a bad thing.
Here, Pickett makes two rough plays. The first one, he throws a dangerous pass behind the WR, who has to make a difficult catch. He’s lucky the WR makes the catch as it could’ve been an INT. The second play is an awful INT. He makes the wrong decision to launch the ball down the field into very tight coverage. If he underthrew the ball, perhaps it’s not intercepted, but instead, he overthrows it. The pass almost looks like it’s meant for the DB. It’s just an awful decision that he occasionally makes. It’s a head-scratcher. Luckily, these are very few and far in-between. He isn’t Sam Darnold.
Make no mistake about Pickett; he has the highest floor in this draft. He may not have the upside that Sam Howell or Malik Willis have and never will touch their ceilings. However, he’s a surefire QB2 to start his career and it could be much worse. He plays exactly like a younger Derek Carr or a worse Joe Burrow. I’ll gladly take him as the first QB in rookie drafts since I want sure talents. If this is SF, I want the reliable guy that will start Day 1 like Pickett. Willis is fun to think about, but he needs a lot of work. Pickett will play in the NFL and I don’t doubt his talent.
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