Kenny Pickett's NFL scouting report, comparisons, college stats, and all-22 clips from his redshirt senior season at Pitt.
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My model = 89th percentile. Comp = Ryan Tannehill.
Pickett (6’3/217) was a 3-star recruit and a 4-year starter at Pitt, who was completely off the 1st-round radar until his redshirt senior season when he had 47 total touchdowns to 13 total turnovers. His 2021 total EPA is in the 94th percentile among drafted QBs since 2005, but he will be 23.8 years old on draft night and only faced a 29th percentile strength of schedule.
On tape, Pickett shows slightly above-average mobility (4.73 speed) and finishes scrambles with toughness. He has experience with multiple pro- and college-style dropbacks but tends to drift right out of the pocket too early, possibly after being scarred by a disastrous OL earlier in his career. Pickett can throw on the move enough to handle bootlegs and is athletic enough to handle a few zone reads (18.5 rushing yards per game), but his bottom 1st percentile hands leave him prone to fumbles (38 in career).
In clean pockets, Pickett was 13th in catchable ball rate on targets within 15 yards and 10th beyond 15 yards out of 87 college QBs per Sports Info Solutions. His accuracy is good, if not really good. His arm strength is certainly passable but definitely not elite. He has the occasional dying pass to the sideline and can leave some deep balls in the air too long. In general, he has an NFL arm.
Where Pickett struggles is going through an entire progression. Like Jimmy Garoppolo, Pickett makes great throws on 1st and sometimes 2nd reads, but there is a little panic in his game which causes few full-field reads and more checkdowns than necessary -- he was 35th in average depth of target (8.8) in clean pockets. That would be fine if he avoided sacks, but Pickett also was in the bottom 9th percentile in EPA lost on sacks among drafted QBs since 2005. QBs can’t take sacks if they aren’t also looking for the big play.
After 48 collegiate starts, it’s hard seeing him break these ceiling-prohibiting habits, so Pickett ultimately is on the Ryan Tannehill or more-mobile Jimmy G tier. Based on the rookie wage scale and his readiness for year one starts, there’s enough here to warrant a mid- to late-Round 1 grade. This type of profile may not be enough to pay him after that team-friendly rookie contract is up, so his drafting team needs to tread wisely.
As a reminder, Mac Jones (15th overall) is making $28M less than Kirk Cousins, $24M less than Carson Wentz, $23M less than Jimmy G, $15M less than Baker Baker and Sam Darnold, $5M less than Tua Tagovailoa and Daniel Jones, and less money than Jacoby Brissett, Mason Rudolph, Mitchell Trubisky, and Taylor Heinicke. There’s a window to win even with slightly above-average rookie contract QB play. He has 50/50 odds of being an average rookie contract starter, even if his path to a true ceiling is hard to envision.