Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
This almost seems serendipitous. Kenny Pickett, who many scouts say has the highest floor of the quarterbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft class, was a standout at the University of Pittsburgh last year. Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper is a Pittsburgh guy. He grew up there and went to school at both the University of Pittsburgh and nearby Carnegie Mellon University. The Panthers happen to need a quarterback and their pick landed in a sport where they’ll likely be able to take one.
There’s also the Matt Rhule connection. While the head coach at Temple, Matt Rhule met with Pickett and recruited him. Pickett even initially committed to Temple before having a dynamic senior season and attracting the attention of bigger more established programs. There’s a legitimate connection there as Pickett said about Rhule, “I trust him.” Pickett also noted that in talking with current Temple players about Rhule during the recruiting process, they spoke of “what a great guy he is and how hard they played for him.”
The multiple layers of connections need to be accounted for, but what Kenny Pickett did on the field in the fall of 2021 should be the main story. The 6’3” 217-pound Pickett went full supernova last year a la Joe Burrow. He threw for 4,319 yards, 42 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. His completion percentage was solid at 67.2%. He even added five rushing touchdowns. What’s more, Pickett showed great leadership, piloting his college team to an 11-2 record, ACC Championship, and a berth in the Peach Bowl.
Many draft experts have Kenny Pickett slotted in the middle of the first round on their big boards. Selecting him at number six overall in the 1st round might be considered a reach for the Carolina Panthers. But when it comes to getting a franchise quarterback, there’s almost no such thing as a reach.