By Adam Aniba
Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett threw more touchdown passes out of the pocket than any other quarterback in college football, per Pro Football Focus. Pickett had an historic season and a career year, in which he threw for over 12,000 becoming the teams all-time passing leader. He also broke Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino's long standing touchdown record of 79 touchdown passes. Pickett announced he would sit out the bowl game in preparation for the draft.
"I am incredibly proud to say I was part of the team that brought back another trophy to the City Champions. With love and gratitude, I have decided to forgo the Peach Bowl and begin training for the 2022 NFL Draft".
6'3" 220 lbs | QB | Univ of Pittsburgh
Draft Proj Top 10
Career Stats (52 games)*Passing- 1045/1674 12,303 yds 81 tds & 31 ints
*Rushing- 417 att 801 yds 20 tds
2021 (13 games) *Passing- 334/497 4,319 yds 42 tds & 7 ints
*Rushing- 98 att 233 yds 5 tds
Pickett attended Ocean Township HS in Oakhurst, New Jersey and was the school's star quarterback. Pickett threw for 4,670 yds and 43 tds, adding another 17 tds on 873 yds rushing (1,900 yards in total offense and 20 touchdowns his senior year). He wrapped up his senior year, ranked as the #10 ranked pro-style quarterback in the nation and committed, to Pitt for the '17 season, after initially commiting to Temple University.
Pickett only played in 4 games as a true freshman in 2017, but made a huge impression during his only start that season vs Miami, accounting for 253 total yds (1 passing & 2 rushing tds) in a 24-14 upset win over #2 ranked Miami in their regular-season finale. Pickett earned ACC Rookie of the week honors for his performance. The Pitt signal caller would be named the starting quarterback the following season and never looked back.
Pickett's ability to thrive as a progression-style passer, but also pose a threat as a runner, provided Pitt coaches with a valuable asset unlike any signal caller they've had.
Teammates and coaches have raved about his ability to go through his progressions and the patience he displays to let routes play out. In fact, it seems the more chaotic it get around the pocket, the better the Pitt QB performs. His field vision is second to none in the class and seems tailor made for the next level.
2021 Awards & Accolades
Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award Winner (nation’s top senior/fourth-year junior quarterback)
Senior CLASS Award Winner (community, classroom, character and competition)
Heisman Memorial Trophy Finalist (nation’s outstanding player)
Maxwell Award Finalist (nation’s outstanding player)
Walter Camp Award Finalist (nation’s outstanding player)
Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award Finalist (nation’s best college quarterback)
Manning Award Finalist (college football’s outstanding quarterback)
AFCA All-America Team (first team)
Walter Camp All-America Team (first team)
Associated Press All-America Team (second team)
Football Writers Association of America All-America Team (second team)
Sporting News All-America Team (second team)
ACC Player of the Year (overall and offensive)
Pickett's ability to adjust on the fly led to one of the coolest moments in the 2021 college season. The NCAA Football Rules Committee banned the Fake Slide that led to the 58-yard touchdown during the ACC Championship vs Wake Forest.
Pickett led an offensive unit that finished as #3 scoring in college football (43.0 pts per game) and #5 in total offense (502.9 yds per game).
As mentioned, Pickett leaves PItt as the all-time leader in passing yardage, but also in career completions (1,045), total offense (13,112), total touchdowns (102) and eclipsing the single-season completion record (334 completions). He also has the most 300-yard passing games (16) and 400-yard passing games (5) in school history. Picket would break the ACC season record for touchdown passes in a season held by Deshaun Watson 2016.
During the 3-game span in which Pickett broke Dan Marino's Pitt record for most touchdowns, he threw 15 tds (198113 tds in a 3-game stretch). He also broke PItt single game record, throwing for 519 yards on 39 completions vs MIami.
Quick releases with a smooth throwing motion
Accurate passer on the run/when pocket breaks down
Prototypical measurables and compact build will help on the next level
Effectively uses his eyes to look off defenders, which led to big plays downfield
Deceptive mobility that often caught defenders by surprise
Improvisation skills have evolved and now a key part to his game
Throwing mechanics are second to none in this QB class
Decisiveness and quick release helped a mediocre receiving core thrive
Field general with a high football IQ
Arm strength is a slight concern, especially when facing the elements
Small hands a slight concern (wears gloves for grip)
Ball tends to sail due to occasional lapses in concentration
Can take unnecessary risks under pressure
Will have to trust his checkdown
Turns 24 next season
The NCAA granted all 2020 fall athletes an extra year of eligibility, and Pickett took advantage of this option to return as the Panthers' starting quarterback in 2021. No prospect in the nation benefited more than the Pitt signal caller. Pickett is a gamer who engineered multiple 4th quarter comebacks during his Pitt career. Although Pickett thrived in Spread based offense, he shouldn't be pigeonholed in that role, considering his versatility as a passer who's field processing will give him a leg up.
Prior to the 2021 season, Pickett was viewed more as a developmental, day 2-3 signal caller, but now has catapulted into the position to be the first quarterback off the board in the 2022 NFL draft. Various evaluators have compared Pickett to former LSU Heisman Trophy winner and '20 1st overall selection Joe Burrow (Bengals). That might seem like a reach to some, but the fact remains that Pickett didn't have a Jamar Chase (Bengals) or Justin Jefferson (Vikings) to throw to.
Out of all the QB prospects in this class, Pickett has the size, tools and high football IQ to run an NFL offense from Day 1. The Pitt signal caller should be the first quarterback selected in the 2022 NFL Draft and a few teams in the NFC East could have their eye on him.
*Games Watched- 9/4 vs Mass, 10/2 vs Ga Tech, 10/16 vs Va Tech, 10/23 vs Clem, 10/30 vs Miami, 11/6 vs Duke, 11/11 vs UNC , 11/20 vs UVA and 12/4 vs Wake Forest (ACC Championship)
*Team Fits- WFT, DET, HOU, DEN, PITT, CAR, Saints, ATL, MIN, SEA, PHI
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