After a week at the Senior Bowl, during which he made strides toward the NFL, Kenny Pickett solidified himself as one of the top quarterbacks eligible for the 2022 NFL Draft.
Despite the lingering questions about his small hands, Pickett interviewed well all week, earned strong praise from the defenders he competed against and completed all six of his passes in the actual Senior Bowl for 89 yards and a touchdown.
ESPN’s Todd McShay flipped Liberty’s Malik Willis ahead as the draft’s top quarterback and ranked Pickett as the class’s No. 2 quarterback and No. 19 overall player — a three spot drop since his last ranking release.
Big shakeups in my updated Top-32 draft rankings and Top-10’s by Position post-Senior Bowl! Have at it… https://t.co/mcdlbwo24V
— Todd McShay (@McShay13) February 8, 2022
In a Senior Bowl reaction article from over the weekend, McShay criticized Pickett’s performance during a rainy practice at the Senior Bowl but did compliment his bounceback. He was additionally praised him as the “safest” option among the quarterbacks.
In McShay’s Big Board ranking article, he highlighted the traits that he’s seen should allow Pickett to make a jump to the NFL and serve as a starting-caliber player in the professional ranks, writing:
“Pickett was ninth in the country in Total QBR (81.2), his 4,319 passing yards ranked sixth and his 42 passing TDs were fourth. He had seven interceptions over 13 games, and he completed 67.2% of his passes. His arm strength and pocket mobility are average areas in his game, but his toughness in the pocket, fast eyes on progressions and awareness in holding the safety stand out. He recognizes defensive disguises and is decisive. His decision-making improved after back-to-back seasons with 13-to-9 TD-INT ratios. His touch and timing on deep balls are solid, and he leads receivers into the catch. And Pickett flashes some second-reaction ability, too, scrambling when he needs to create and maneuvering around pressure.”
Despite McShay stating in the aforementioned Senior Bowl article that Pickett would be best suited for a warm or indoor location in the NFL, Pickett’s five seasons at Pitt weren’t exactly played somewhere like Miami or San Diego.
In fact, one of Pickett’s strong performances on the season came in a cold, rainy game against North Carolina in Pittsburgh, at a dome-less Heinz Field.
So, while Pickett doesn’t quite have the high-end physical tools that some of his draftmates do, his ability to play in the cold and rain shouldn’t be too much of a consideration.
McShay didn’t rank Damarri Mathis, a fellow Senior Bowler, in his cornerbacks’ list, but he ranked Cal Adomitis, another Senior Bowler, as the top-rated long snapper.
Mathis racked up 43 tackles (32 solo), two interceptions, defended five passes and scored a defensive touchdown as a senior at Pitt. With the tough task of playing as a cornerback on an island at Pitt, Mathis played well — and his strong week at the Senior Bowl should help his draft prospects.
Super patient hips through the release and isn’t fooled by the eye candy. Creates friction on the cutback. Flings himself across the catch point like a grasshopper. pic.twitter.com/JEx7Q7pyPv
— Cole Topham (@HamAnalysis) February 5, 2022