By Jeremy Hritz
Following on the heels of the Steelers 6th loss of the season, some faith has been restored in Ben Roethlisberger, and the primary culprit for his average performance this season is now concretely confirmed to be the offensive line. With that fully established, the discussion of whether or not Roethlisberger should return for a 19th season should pick up steam; however, that does not obviate the need for the Steelers to begin looking for their next franchise signal caller. So far, we have provided our initial reflections on potential 2022 NFL Draft QBs in Malik Willis, Desmond Ridder, and Sam Howell, and today, we take a look at Pittsburgh-favorite, Kenny Pickett. In some circles, Pickett is being touted as the best QB prospect who will be available in this year’s draft. Could he be on the Steelers’ radar? Time will tell.
Name: Kenny Pickett
Birth Date: 6/6/1998 (23 years old)
40-Yard Dash (estimated): 4.77
Class: Redshirt Senior
You will not find a more endearing, beloved player in this year’s crop of college football players than Kenny Pickett. After leading his team to an ACC Championship and an 11-2 record, Pickett has generated significant attention and has thrust himself into the discussion as the best quarterback available in the 2022 NFL Draft. Is he that? There’s much more evaluation to be done.
Prior to his senior season, Pickett never eclipsed 3100 yards passing, though that was with underwhelming rosters at the University of Pittsburgh. In his senior season, however, Pickett amassed 4319 yards and 42 touchdowns, showing a significant jump in growth and statistical performance. His dominance this season has put him in the race for the Heisman Trophy, though that award will more than likely go to Bryce Young out of Alabama.
Pickett has the intangibles needed at the quarterback position to lead his team to victory, showing the ability to be nimble in the pocket to buy time and to make a big play off script down the field. While not a running threat, Pickett has enough mobility to extend plays and also pick up yardage with his legs if needed. Pickett shows poise and accuracy, able to read defenses and navigate his progressions effectively to determine where he needs to go with the football, rather than locking in on an initial read and making a bad decision. He also has demonstrated an acumen for throwing a precise deep ball and fitting it into spots that look improbable.
In terms of concerns regarding Pickett, scouts will point to smaller hand size, modest body of work prior to the 2021 season, age (will be a 24-year old rookie at the start of training camp), and a good but not elite NFL arm. Despite these questions, Pickett has emphatically burst into the top draft quarterback discussion and more than likely will be taken within the top 25 picks in this coming year’s first round.
While more evaluation needs to occur surrounding Pickett, he is an intriguing prospect who could be on the Steelers radar. As we get closer to the 2022 NFL Draft, I will have a more complete profile of Pickett up and available to you.