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Pitt QB Kenny Pickett declares for NFL Draft, will skip Peach Bowl

Andrew Buller-Russ
Kenny Pickett
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

It’s that time of the year. Late Thursday night, Pittsburgh Panthers star quarterback and Heisman runner-up Kenny Pickett announced his intentions to declare for the 2022 NFL Draft.

By declaring now, Pickett also stated that he would be skipping Pitt’s final game of the season, the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, against the Michigan State Spartans.

Still, Pickett accomplished what he set out to do by returning for his senior season by drastically improving his draft stock as well as win a championship, with Pitt winning the ACC Conference. Pickett made sure to thank his teammates and coaches for his experience thus far.

Kenny Pickett as an NFL Draft prospect

NCAA Football: ACC Championship-Pittsburgh vs Wake Forest
Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

A fifth-year senior, Pickett had his work cut out for him entering the season to become a legitimate NFL draft prospect. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who thought the 6-foot-3 quarterback would be a candidate to be selected in the first round before the year began, yet that’s exactly what’s now expected of Pickett.

Setting the single-season records for passing touchdowns, total touchdowns and passing yards, at a school Dan Marino attended is impressive in its own right. His fake slide in the ACC Championship game forced the NCAA to add the “Kenny Pickett rule“, preventing such a play from ever occurring again. Needless to say, Pickett is a game-changer, or at least he was for Pitt.

Pickett loves to play ball and it shows on game day, with his Tom Brady-like enthusiasm often displayed after picking up a first down with his legs. Extending the play is something Pickett does often, while he won’t be confused with Lamar Jackson’s speed, the 23-year old QB does have above-average athleticism, as seen here.

His athletic abilities are certainly noticeable, but he also has the ability to push the ball down the field using efficient throwing mechanics. Pickett is an accurate thrower, but he can make any throw on the field, including the deep ball. There are times where Pickett gets a bit ahead of himself, trying to force throws into double coverage, where his good, but not great arm strength holds him back.

Still, whoever lands Pickett will be getting a smart quarterback, who’s experienced and can surprise you with his running ability. There’s a reason why he finished third in the 2021 Heisman voting.

Now he will take his talents to the NFL, where some project him as the first quarterback selected in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Kenny Pickett stats

  • 2017: 39-of-66, 59.1%, 509 passing yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 26 carries, 93 rushing yards, 2 TD (4 games)
  • 2018: 180-of-310, 58.1%, 1,969 passing yards, 12 TD, 6 INT, 117 carries, 220 rushing yards, 3 TD (14 games)
  • 2019: 289-of-469, 61.6%, 3,098 passing yards, 13 TD, 9 INT, 95 carries, 110 rushing yards, 2 TD (12 games)
  • 2020: 203-of-332, 61.1%, 2,408 passing yards, 13 TD, 9 INT, 81 carries, 145 rushing yards, 8 TD (9 games)
  • 2021: 334-of-497, 67.2%, 4,319 passing yards, 42 TD, 7 INT, 98 carries, 233 rushing yards, 5 TD (13 games)

After a phenomenal finish to his college career, Pickett can continue training, this time for the pros. The 2022 NFL Draft will take place from Apr. 28-30.