QB Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh

6’3” – 220 lbs.

Background:

Originally committed to Temple but ended up at Pittsburgh. Started one of four games as a true freshman, finishing with 509 yards on the year, then took over the starting job the next year. Had three seasons of modest production as a starter from 2018-2020, finishing with 1,969 yards (58.1%, 6.4 YPA), 12 touchdowns, and six interceptions in 2018; 3,098 yards (61.6%, 6.6 YPA), 13 touchdowns, and nine interceptions in 2019; 2,408 yards (61.1%, 7.3 YPA), 13 touchdowns, and nine interceptions in 2020. Used an extra year of eligibility this past year and broke out, with 4,319 yards (67.2%, 8.7 YPA), 42 touchdowns, and seven interceptions, leading Pittsburgh to an eleven-win season to conclude his college career. Offense was coordinated by Mark Whipple every season but 2018 (Shawn Watson.)

Positives:

Four-year starter who made an incredible leap this past season and established himself as a winner in college. Listed size is pretty solid for a pro quarterback. Footwork looks very polished when dropping back out of the shotgun; no heel click at the back. Went through some progressions in Pitt’s offense, which features a lot of same-side levels concepts. Willing to work the underneath throws when his primary read isn’t available. Throwing mechanics are efficient and consistent, with a three-quarters delivery. Effective weight transfer allows him to drive the ball with solid velocity, especially over the middle of the field. Arm strength is good enough to get the ball out to the sidelines. Pass-first quarterback who keeps his eyes downfield when scrambling but can also pick up a first down when he escapes the pocket. Can throw accurately when rolling to his right. Shows impressive toughness as a ballcarrier.

Negatives:

Fifth-year senior who will be 24 as a rookie and whose first three seasons as a starter were relatively unproductive. Played out of the shotgun in an offense which took advantage of spacing to spread out the defense and create some easy completions. Doesn’t always get the ball out quickly, forcing him to flee the pocket or throw the ball away. Overall ball placement is at least adequate but does force his receivers to make adjustments more often than you’d like; got better this past year. Can put a little bit too much on some passes; consistently hard thrower. Trusts his arm too much at times and will attempt throws into tight windows. A little bit slow to hit targets on delay screens. Tends not to throw the ball when rolling left. Expected to have small hand measurements at the Combine.

Summary:

Has the type of pro-ready mechanics you’d expect after being coached by an offensive coordinator with a pro pedigree, and despite being older than your typical prospect, showed so much development this past season that it’s hard to argue he’s already reached his full potential. Would like to see him speed up his decision-making a little bit, use more appropriate touch, and reduce the number of tight windows he’s throwing into, but clearly shows starting-caliber traits and consequently should be one of the first quarterbacks off the board on draft day, if not the first.

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