It never ceases to amaze me how people will overvalue and overgrade players, and nobody fits this description better than Pitt quarterback (QB) Kenny Pickett.
If there has ever been a one-year, one-hit wonder in football, Pickett is it. He has burst onto the scene after three consecutive domestic seasons statistically.
Never mind my opinions for a moment – – let’s consider Pickett’s full body of work as a QB (espn.com).
2021: 26 TD 3 INT QBR 173.3
2020: 13 TD 9 INT QBR 129.6
2019: 13 TD 9 INT QBR 122.4
2018: 12 TD 6 INT QBR 120.3
A player like Pickett scares me.
Three of the last four years, Pickett statistically looked like anything but a franchise starting QB.
From accounts prior to this season, Pickett was a lower-round draft pick. Now ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. has him rated as his top-rated QB?
That is insane to me. Just on September 30, Kiper did not even have Pickett on his top five QB board. This perfectly illustrates the politics involved on this one.
I have written up Joe Burrow for Sports Illustrated Detroit Lions a couple weeks ago and let me go on record saying, Pickett could not hold Burrow’s clipboard.
Pickett is a career backup type who will probably play in that role for 10 years, but not as a starter. He is a second or third string back-up, who can come into a game and provide a spark in a dire situation.
An NFL team would be foolish to consider Pickett in the first round. He is this year’s Zach Wilson. He is actually a poor-man’s Zach Wilson.
Pickett is not a second, third or fourth round talent either.
We have to consider the level of competition. A guy like Mac Jones played against elite level competition under the brightest of lights and won a National Championship. Jones was pro-ready. Pickett threw five touchdowns in a game against New Hampshire, and everyone wanted to make such a great big deal of him breaking Dan Marino’s touchdown record at Pitt.
Trust me, if Pickett is the next Dan Marino, I am the next President of the United States.
In 2021 Pickett played: New Hampshire, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Clemson and Miami. Ironically, Pickett looked far more human against Clemson and Miami.
Pickett threw three touchdowns, two interceptions and was sacked four times against Miami.
When I turn on the game film, I am just not seeing it – – and I am not feeling it.
QB #8 Kenny Pickett 6’3″ 220 (5th round league grade)
Daniel Kelly’s Draft Board: He is not on my board
NFL Comparable: Rusty Hilger
Good fit: Bills, Jets, Browns, Steelers, Chargers, Titans, Giants, Cowboys, Vikings, Lions and Seahawks
2021 Film Exposure: Western Michigan, Georgia Tech, Clemson and Miami
Level of Competition: Moderate
Chief concern: Radical spike in statistics in 2021
Character concerns: None (background search came back clean)
Probability of being a bust: 50/50
Best way to beat him: Funnel coverages heavily towards the middle of the field where he loves to throw. Take away the middle of the field. Make him work the intermediate sidelines and work the short and deep levels.
Frumpy looking and rough around the edges raw and mobile signal-caller with average arm strength and ball placement. Unorthodox, unconventional, and quirky. Operates out of shotgun formation. Glove on his throwing hand. Good ball-handling skills. Decent play-action fake. He looks extremely uncomfortable in the pocket. Elongated throwing motion. Happy feet. He will bail at the first sign of pressure. Spooked easily. Runs all over the place. Tends to take sacks. More of a sand-lot pick-up game type. Tends to lock-in. Best in the short to intermediate route level range. Ball has a tendency to sail high on him. Inconsistent ball placement. He does not throw the easiest ball to catch. Does not tend to throw receiver-friendly passes where receivers can just catch and go. Tends to like to work in the intermediate middle of the field. Inconsistent accuracy deep. Decent, but not a great arm. NFL defensive backs will feast on his passes with ball placement issues and lacking top-level arm strength. Tends to do better against lesser competition levels. Leads with a herky-jerky rhythm and tempo. Tough runner. Gets what he can. Knows how to slide. Probably the best thing he has going for him is he tends to protect the football. He does not throw stupid and careless passes.
Daniel Kelly is a former NFL scout with the New York Jets. He was hired on the regime which featured Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Scott Pioli, Mike Tannenbaum, and Dick Haley. He currently writes for Sports Illustrated Detroit Lions and he is a contributing evaluator for Draft Diamonds. For more information about him visit his website at whateverittakesbook.com. He can be followed on Twitter @danielkellybook and his Facebook page is WHATEVER IT TAKES NFL TALK.