Howie Roseman is in Pittsburgh today, Thursday, for the Pitt Panthers vs. North Carolina Tar Heels game. He’s presumably taking a look at quarterbacks Kenny Pickett and Sam Howell.
Philly isn’t much of a college football town, and Pitt isn’t exactly a major player on a national stage, so local fans might not be familiar with Pickett. He’s 6’3″, 220 pounds, a red shirt senior who has been with the Panther program for what feels like eons. He was born in 1998 and obviously he’s a little older than some of the other QB prospects who have entered the draft in recent years.
For starters, here’s Mel Kiper making a comparison and predicting where Pickett might go come April:
Mel Kiper on Get Up talking about Kenny Pickett. Compares him to Derek Carr, says he sees Pickett as a late first round pick, maybe mid first round pick. pic.twitter.com/qSkGZlteVq
— 🦃 Amanda Godsey 🦃 (@AmandaFGodsey) November 10, 2021
Derek Carr? Okay. There have also been Teddy Bridgewater comparisons as well. Not sure if that excites anybody, but Pickett is a late riser and quickly moving up draft boards. It’s not exactly Joe Burrow in terms of meteoric rises, but Pickett was not in anybody’s top five coming into the season.
Pickett has thrown for more than 11,000 yards at Pitt and tonight he’s likely going to set the all-time program record. Here’s a recent video clip that should show you a little bit of what he can do:
Another monster day from @kennypickett10!
— ACC Football (@ACCFootball) November 6, 2021
I know it’s against Duke, but still. He throws a nice ball and has some athleticism to boot, not Jalen Hurts-type athleticism, but enough to get out and run and extend plays a bit, or move the sticks with the occasional scramble. On paper, he seems to fit what the Eagles have liked in the past, which is that bigger guy coming out of a pro-style system. A gunslinger type of dude. They’ve drafted players like this before, guys like Clayton Thorson, Nick Foles, and ….Carson Wentz. You could even go back as far as Matt Barkley, Kevin Kolb, and Mike Kafka, and find some similarities there.
As for weaknesses, this is what Joe Marino at The Draft Network writes:
Ball placement is inconsistent. He misses high and the ball tends to sail. Can be too willing to fit the ball into windows it cannot fit in. Arm strength is passable but he doesn’t wow with the zip he can generate on his passes. Has some lapses in recognition in terms of pressure packages and if the menu changes post-snap when reading coverage. Wish there were more anticipatory throws on tape with more willingness to stay true to his progressions. Far too willing to invite chaos whether that’s in the pocket or with the throws he attempts. Can be overconfident in both his arm talent and pocket mobility at the expense of playing more within rhythm.
When you go through Pickett’s game logs, there are some standout performances. The ACC isn’t exactly a juggernaut, but he’s had some nice performances, such as:
- 2021: at Tennessee – 24 for 36, 285 yards, two touchdowns
- 2021: at Georgia Tech – 23 for 36, 389 yards, four touchdowns
- 2021: vs. Clemson – 25 for 39, 302 yards, two touchdowns
- 2020: at #24 Louisville – 23 for 38, 220 yards, two touchdowns, one interception
- 2019: at Penn State – 35 for 51, 372 yards
- 2019: vs. UCF – 25 for 47, 224 yards, one touchdown
Pitt won all of those games except for the Penn State matchup, which was a seven-point loss. The Panthers couldn’t run the ball for shit against Micah Parsons and the Nittany Lions that day.
But Pickett has a ton of experience, and that’s probably his best attribute. He’s thrown more than 1,500 passes and has a 68-28 touchdown/interception split. He’s played 48 games and is a late bloomer, which is why you may not be familiar with him.
It’s worth watching Pitt vs. UNC tonight. Howie Roseman will be.