While Pitt’s Kenny Pickett wasn’t the first quarterback selected in ESPN’s Jordan Reid’s first 2022 NFL Mock Draft, his meteoric rise landed him in the first half of Reid’s mock.
Ole Miss’s Matt Corral was the first quarterback selected in Reid’s mock, landing with the Washington Redskins at No. 8, but Pickett wasn’t too far behind as his second quarterback selected — landing with the Carolina Panthers with the No. 12.
Mock Draft 1.0:
• Depth of the EDGE group shines
• Deep WR and CB classes
• Three QBs in the top-32https://t.co/4upSDqdLXW
— Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid) November 17, 2021
With Cam Newton now in the fold for Carolina, along with somewhat recently acquired Sam Darnold, the Panthers’ quarterback room is crowded, but there isn’t too much future potential on the roster currently. That’s where Pickett enters. He’s one of the more NFL-ready quarterbacks in the draft and could challenge for playing time immediately, with Reid writing:
“The experiment with Cam Newton on a one-year deal could change the Panthers’ quarterback outlook, but it doesn’t appear as if Sam Darnold is the answer, even though the team picked up his option for next season. Pickett could be a match here, as he has history with Carolina coach Matt Rhule. He was once a Temple commit (2016) while Rhule was leading the program. While constructing the roster, Rhule has shown special attention to players he has coached. Pickett, a fifth-year senior, has made an astronomical rise after he received a midround grade from NFL scouts at the end of last season. A calm distributor — he has thrown 32 touchdown passes and just four picks this season — he might not have the arm strength or running ability of some of his counterparts, but his accuracy, decision-making and intangibles could force a team to fall in love with him.”
Although Pickett never played a snap under Carolina head coach Matt Rhule, de-commiting from Rhule’s Temple team in 2016, he does have a relationship of some degree with him.
Through 10 games this season, Pickett has thrown for 3,517 yards and 32 touchdowns on 260-of-385 passing attempts. He’s completed 67.5 percent of his attempts at 9.1 yards per attempt and just four interceptions. He’s also rushed for 223 yards and four more touchdowns.
After four solid but not spectacular seasons at Pitt, Pickett has been looking at Day 3 projections for his NFL Draft stock, but after this season, he’s risen higher than almost anyone in the draft cycle. Both ESPN’s Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr. rank Pickett as their top-ranked quarterback.