NFL Draft Player Breakdown: QB Kenny Pickett (Pitt)
Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett is arguably the top signal caller in this year’s NFL Draft and a likely first-round selection. Overall, he has a lot of tools to work with and the potential to develop into a good quarterback at the NFL level. But there are also enough areas of concern that could make even the quarterback-needy teams think twice about drafting him early.
Let’s dive in and take a look.
Tools and Experience
First, the good. Pickett has a strong arm and the ability to make just about any throw. He wants to push the ball downfield, and at times, he showed some exceptional ball placement on intermediate and deep throws:
That was a 30-35 yard perfectly-placed seed. Tough to find many passes better than that.
Pickett also showed the ability to anticipate on certain throws, which should be a prerequisite for any quarterback taken in the first round. Notice how the ball was out before his receiver had gotten his head around here:
His anticipation not only enabled that completion, but also, the opportunity for yards after the catch.
Pickett played in a pro-style system at Pitt and has the experience and familiarity working through full-field reads. Below, you can see an example. Pickett looked right initially, recognized that the out-route was taken away during his drop, quickly moved to the post, then calmly came back to the dig on his left and delivered the ball within the timing of the play:
That was a downfield tight-window completion on a route that wasn’t his first read, which is great to see.
Mechanics and Pocket Movement
While Pickett has a strong arm, he doesn’t have a Josh-Allen-level cannon with the ability to just flick his wrist and send the ball 50 yards downfield. He often needs to muscle-up and step into his throws. From a mechanics standpoint, he’s a bit of an over-strider at times, which impacts the consistency of his ball placement. Take this throw for example:
For all of the great downfield throws he makes, passes like that where he badly misses a wide-open receiver from a clean pocket are head-scratchers. But a closer look shows that this miss came down to his mechanics and footwork.
The ideal throwing base is with your feet a little bit more than shoulder-length apart. From the end zone angle, you can see that Pickett’s base was just a little too wide here:
He also appeared to step in the bucket a little too far to the left, which is where the ball ended up going.
The longer stride impacts Pickett’s timing as well. There were some throws last season where he needed to deliver the ball right off of a receiver’s break and was just a bit too late releasing it: