The pick is in. This is Kevin Colbert’s final year as the general manager, and like in past years, we want to evaluate the value of each pick. Based on projections for each player by draft outlets as well as our own reports, we want to see if the pick’s value is above or below how they were ranked coming into the draft.
Round 1 (Pick 20) – Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
The Steelers did their homework on the top five quarterbacks in the NFL draft, and it turns out not only did they not have to trade up, but they didn’t have to look far. He is an older prospect, turning 24 in June, probably signaling they will let him challenge for the starting position right away.
A redshirt senior, he had a highly productive career with over 1,000 completions, 12,000 yards, and 81 touchdown passes to just 32 interceptions.
Daniel Jeremiah had him ranked 24th in his Top 150, and had this to say:
“Pickett has ideal size, athleticism and accuracy for the position. He has a lot of twitch in his lower half, which shows up in his ability to avoid defenders inside the pocket or escape to make plays. He has a quick release and incorporates a variety of arm angles. He doesn’t have elite velocity, but makes up for it with outstanding anticipation. He has quick eyes to get to his third progression. His accuracy is generally exquisite, but there are occasions when his eyes are faster than his feet, which affects his ball placement. He is very poised and comfortable throwing on the move. He doesn’t panic and he delivers strikes. He has solid speed and elusiveness as a runner. There will be talk about his hand size and throwing with a glove — neither topic concerns me. Overall, Pickett is kind of a more athletic Matt Hasselbeck.”
Lance Zierlein at NFL.com gave him a first-round grade and compared him to Andy Dalton and opined:
“Pickett has five years of game experience and four years of starting experience for Pitt. He’s a fairly toolsy pocket passer with good mobility. He operated in a passing scheme featuring vertical concepts that created big-play opportunities but left food on the plate when he failed to play chess against the back-end of the coverage. Pickett works with average anticipation but drives the ball with good velocity, which should help him shine in pre-draft passing drills. Pickett’s touch and placement need work, but his accuracy stats were damaged by an inordinate amount of drops throughout his career. The top indicator for future success or failure will likely rest in a team’s ability to build Pickett’s trust, poise and discipline from the pocket. He can make all the throws, but he’ll only be able to execute against disguised fronts and NFL pressure if he’s willing to hang in and win with his eyes first. He carries a boom/bust label, but the 2021 tape and productivity showed off his potential to become a good starter in time.”
CBS.com had Pickett as their 30th-ranked player, comparing him to Derek Carr and adding these thoughts:
“Made huge strides during 2021 after being considered a Day 3 pick after his 2020 season. Consistently shows great touch on mid-range passes, and the ball comes out quickly and on time. Maximizes yards-after-catch possibility for his targets on short and intermediate routes. Good athlete who, when needed, can consistently win with his legs outside the pocket. Plays with confidence in the face of pressure while keeping his eyes downfield, and he’ll stand in the pocket and deliver a strike. While he doesn’t have an elite arm, he showed throughout the season that he has the ability to throw deep outs, and the ball had both velocity and accuracy. Weaknesses include, “His hand size — the smallest among QBs since Michael Vick was drafted more than two decades ago — will be an issue for some teams and not for others. Doesn’t have an elite arm but can make every NFL throw. Sometimes has tunnel vision and misses open targets downfield and instead opts for check downs or looks to run. Sometimes his ball can lose steam on deep outs. Averaged more than 3.1 seconds per drawback at Pitt, and he’ll lock onto a read even with other WRs coming open. Won’t have that kind of time at the next level.”
Our Daniel Kitchen did this profile on Pickett, giving him a mid-Day 1 grade, with these comments:
“Among all the contending names in one of the weakest quarterback classes of the last 20 years, Pickett is one of the favorites to be the first selected at the position. Like every quarterback in the class, however, he is far from a finished product, and shouldn’t be expected to immediately step into stardom. His first season will involve some adjustments and growing pains, though not any that are unexpected for most early-round QBs making the jump to the NFL.”
Overall, based on grades, Pickett across the board was graded as a first-round pick, so the value of this pick is GOOD. They get the guy they targeted with all the quarterbacks still on the board, and they didn’t have to trade up and use valuable picks to do so. Get ready for a quarterback competition this summer.