Quarterback #2: Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh
Every year there is at least one quarterback who seemingly comes out of nowhere and emerges as a potential first-round pick during the College Football season. A few of those quarterbacks include Mac Jones (2021), Joe Burrow (2020), Daniel Jones (2019), Dwanye Haskins (2019), Baker Mayfield (2018), Mitchell Trubisky (2017), Patrick Mahomes (2017), Carson Wentz (2016), and Paxton Lynch (2016). The breakout quarterback who emerged as a potential first-round pick in this year’s draft was Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett.
Many feel that Pickett is the safest quarterback to take early in this year’s draft. Similar to Jones as a prospect last year, Pickett is a safe quarterback option that could start in his rookie season. However, like Jones, Pickett could already be near his ceiling as a player early on in his career. So there is a good chance whatever Pickett is in his rookie season is what he will be for the rest of his career.
His final season at Pittsburgh has been compared to Joe Burrow’s final season at LSU. As an older college quarterback, Pickett had been one of the most dominant quarterbacks in College Football this past season like Burrow was in his final season. Pickett was recognized as such when he was nominated for the Heisman this past year.
Scouts see Pickett’s ceiling being Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. They are both pocket passers who are somewhere between game manager and playmaker. Similar to Carr, Pickett is a pocket passer who has the athleticism to scramble for first downs if necessary. Overall Pickett should be a trustworthy starting quarterback for the team that drafts him.
Even though Pickett doesn’t possess the upside of a Malik Willis, there is a chance he is the first quarterback off the board. At this moment it feels like one team is extremely interested in adding Pickett early in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. That team is the Carolina Panthers.
Even though Jaycee Horn was great when he was healthy last season, Carolina must be kicking themselves for passing on potential franchise cornerstones Justin Fields, Mac Jones, and Rashawn Slater. The Panthers have pigeonholed into a spot where they have to take a quarterback that could beat out Sam Darnold. If they go in another direction and the Panthers don’t take a leap forward next season it could lead to Matt Rhule getting fired.
There are so many reasons why Pickett makes the most sense for the Panthers. Out of all the quarterbacks entering the league, he has the best chance to start right away. He also has a relationship with head coach Matt Rhule who recruited him to Temple back in high school. Panthers owner David Tepper is also a University of Pittsburgh alumni who could want the best quarterback his alma matter has produced in a long time starting for his franchise. Being a Pitt alumni Tepper should have the inside scoop on Pickett as a player.
Prediction: The Carolina Panthers select Kenny Pickett with the sixth overall pick.