2022 NFL Mock Draft: Panthers, Seahawks and Steelers all land quarterbacks in first round

Steelers take Kenny Pickett in 2022 NFL Draft: Fantasy Football and Dynasty outlooks, scouting report, more

The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett with the No. 20 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Despite reports suggesting the Steelers might trade up for a quarterback, with many connecting them to Liberty quarterback Malik Willis, they stayed patient and were rewarded with their No. 1 overall quarterback. Pickett was the first quarterback to come off the board — all the way at No. 20 overall.

Pickett is a Jersey Shore kid, growing up less than 10 minutes from the beach in Northern New Jersey and an hour’s drive on the Garden State Parkway from New York City. He started playing football at age 6 and developed into “a smoother athlete,” according to his coach at Ocean Township High School. It was there he led the Spartans to the state’s regional semifinal game as a junior. In three years as the starter, Pickett totaled 4,670 yards and 43 touchdowns through the air and 873 yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground.

A three-star prospect from 247Sports, Pickett originally committed to play with coach Matt Rhule at Temple but changed his mind after getting more offers and ultimately enrolled early at Pitt. He started as soon as his true freshman year, earning his first win over a previously undefeated Miami team. Pickett only missed four starts over the next four years, finishing his collegiate career with an outstanding 62.4% completion rate, 12,303 yards, 81 touchdowns and 32 interceptions along with 809 rush yards and 20 rushing scores on the ground. He finished as the school’s all-time leading passer in yards and touchdowns as well as total touchdowns. Pickett also threw for the most 300- and 400-yard games in school history. Pretty impressive when you realize who quarterbacked the Panthers in the early 1980s.

Age as of Week 1: 24 | Height: 6-3 1/4 | Weight: 217 | 40-time: 4.73

Comparable body type to: Jared Goff

We’re breaking down everything you need to know about Pickett from a Fantasy manager perspective, including best fits, Dynasty outlook, measurables, scouting report, key stats and an NFL comparison.

fantasy outlook

Pickett may have hoped to hear his name earlier in the first round, but in the long term, there might not be a better fit for him than joining the Steelers and staying in the state of Pittsburgh. The Steelers are also one of the best possible fits for Pickett from a Fantasy Football standpoint. Not only does he join a wide-open quarterback competition against Mitchell Trubisky and Mason Rudolph, but he also joins a team that has an excellent defense in place, an alpha workhorse running back in Najee Harris (with the ability to make an impact in the passing game for easy check-down options early for Pickett), and an offensive line that took a major jump in 2021. With Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool, the Steelers will offer him a vertical threat (Claypool) and the perfect underneath option (Johnson ) — plus a chain-moving red zone threat in TE Pat Freiermuth. And if we know the Steelers, they’ll likely find another Day 3 steal at the receiver position to give Pickett yet another option. — Dan Schneier

Dynasty outlook

Pickett strikes me as a close-to-ready starter who will get overdrafted and likely start before he should. He isn’t the type of quarterback who will make an average receiver good and a good receiver great. Rather, he will flourish statistically if he’s in a good scheme surrounded by a good O-line and good receivers. The good news is that with the exception of the offensive line, he has just that with the Steelers. That’s why he’ll have a shot at some decent numbers in 2022 if he beats out Trubisky with the potential to develop with them and grow into a potential low-end Fantasy starter over the next three seasons. Expect him to get snagged with a Round 2 pick in one-QB Dynasty rookie drafts and somewhere between third and sixth overall in two-QB/Superflex formats.

Scouting report

Strengths

  • Experienced. Was a four-year starter in the ACC.
  • Ideal height for the position.
  • Impressive read & reaction skills allowed him to get rid of the ball smoothly.
  • Frequently displayed good posture and footwork from the pocket.
  • Not often flustered in the face of oncoming pressure and usually kept his eyes focused downfield.
  • Compact release and effortless throwing motion.
  • Best as a rhythm pass. Frequently would drop back and fire to a short or intermediate target.
  • Threw with good velocity. Plenty of rifle shots on film.
  • Strong arm was capable of landing far-side throws. When necessary, put the ball over 50 yards in the air.
  • Knew when a play was going nowhere and would throw a ball away — or even chuck it near a covered receiver in hopes of drawing a flag.
  • Mobility was a key part of his game. Preferred to escape pressured pockets instead of forcing a football. Would extend plays and kept his eyes downfield. Could manipulate defenders by faking the run and then throwing to open receiver after defender peeled off. Threw a catchable ball when on the move.
  • Not quite a “dual-threat” quarterback but would improvise with his legs to pick up yardage. Averaged 7.5 rushes per game in 2021. Converted plenty of short-yardage downs with his legs and wasn’t shy to burrow at the goal line.
  • Should be able to suitably run a West-Coast offense as soon as Week 1.

Concerns

  • The level of competition was strictly fair. Had 11 career starts versus top-25 teams, but only five over the past two seasons and only once in 2021.
  • Leanbody. Unknown if he will be able to hold up to the hits of the NFL.
  • Double-jointed thumbs on undersized hands. Not only might his smaller hands lead to fumbles (38 career fumbles in college), but people with hypermobility tend to be at a higher risk to dislocate joints elsewhere on the body.
  • Was in shotgun formation for all but four drop-backs last year. Needs to master handling the football from under center (did work on that at Senior Bowl).
  • Occasionally was jumpy in the pocket and would sometimes leave the pocket too soon rather than step into throws.
  • Would occasionally throw off his back foot, especially when he saw an open receiver sooner than anticipated. Had the muscle in his arm to get the ball there but without his typical velocity. Those such passes could turn into turnovers in the pros.
  • Needs work with his post-snap reads, especially 15-plus yards downfield. Pickett would sometimes completely miss a roving safety who sabotaged his passes. Would on occasion make a seemingly predetermined throw regardless of coverage and wouldn’t connect. A lot of bad decisions in late 2021.
  • Accuracy was relatively good but there were a number of inaccurate throws that cost his team yards.
  • Surgery for a left ankle sprain cost him two games in 2020.

Breakdown Stats

G Cmp% Countries Yds/Att PaTD PAINT RuAtt RuYds RuAvg RuTD
2021 13 67.2 4319 8.7 42 7 97 241 2.5 5
2021 v Top-25 1 60.6 253 7.7 2 0 6 20 3.3 1
career 52 62.4 12303 7.3 81 32 416 809 1.9 20

Advanced stats to know

  • 8.5% TD rate in 2021 (11th-best)
  • 67.2 completion rate in 2021 (17th)
  • Top-10 in pass attempts of 10-over (192), 15-over (121) and 20-over (74) yards downfield
  • 1,853 of his passing yards came after the catch (10th-most)
  • Zero interceptions thrown inside of 10 yards last season, and only one in his career
  • Three interceptions over 187 career red-zone pass attempts
  • 29.2% career TD rate on passes thrown inside of 10 yards (123rd among QBs over past 5 years)
  • 42 passing touchdowns in 2021 set a new all-time ACC record, besting Deshaun Watson’s 41.
  • 38 career smokes

NFL Comparison

Derek Carr might have a slightly stronger arm, and Pickett seems much more willing to escape the pocket to keep plays alive, but they tend to have a lot in common. Carr was especially solid working in a West Coast system that asked for high-percentage passes; now his career might take off as he’s surrounded by elite talent. Pickett isn’t good enough to lift his receivers — his best collegiate season came with a gutsy playmaker at receiver in Jordan Addison. But if Pickett is asked to just throw high-percentage passes while working in a little more mobile/spread/RPOs weaved in, he should do fine and have a solid career like Carr.

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