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NFL Draft Profile: Kenny Pickett, Quarterback, Pittsburgh Panthers

NFL draft profile scouting report for Pittsburgh quarterback, Kenny Pickett


Pos: QB
Ht: 6032
Wt: 217
Hand: 0848
Arm: 3078
Wing: 7268
40: 4.67
Vertical: 33.5
DOB: 6/6/99
Eligible: 2022
Oakhurst, NJ
Ocean Township High School

Kenny Pickett
Pittsburgh Panthers


Pickett has a lot of undervalued traits teams are looking for, such as leadership, experience, and moxie, and if he can become a better decision maker, Pickett could end up as a backup in the NFL.


Pickett has very good athletic ability, displaying the foot speed+acceleration to escape the pocket and some agility to make a LB miss in space. While he has a large amount of career rushing attempts, Pickett is always keeping his eyes downfield, scanning the defense while he scrambles, exhibiting a pass-first mentality when the play breaks down. He has tremendous ability to throw on the run, off platform and when contorting his body while still regularly placing the ball within the strike zone of the WR. Ball placement is one of his best attributes, Pickett understands where to place the ball to maximize YAC, or to help his target avoid a big hit from an incoming defender. From within the pocket, Pickett was asked to make full-field reads in Pitt's Pro Style Offense, and he improved drastically throughout his experienced career. Pickett’s head is constantly on a swivel, surveying the defense, which also aids in his pocket presence. Pickett has very active and efficient feet, hopping, sliding and adjusting to incoming threats that he sees or senses, pairing that with his mobility and relentless "never say die" mentality, spawns a difficult QB to sack. In addition, Pickett possesses plenty of arm strength, it’s not elite, but it certainly gets the job done. He doesn't always require space to step into his throw and generate power, which is incredibly valuable as a collapsing pocket in front of him won't lead to throwing ducks. Pickett is able to generate velocity due to a strong base and fluid hips that rotate like a well-oiled top, developing some serious zip on the ball to fit throws into tight windows and throw covered targets open. 


While there are many physical gifts to love about Kenny that you simply can't teach, there is a reason he returned for his 5th season to clean some areas of his game up. Pickett must improve his anticipation for throwing windows, instead, regularly needing to see guys break open first, before throwing to them. Furthermore, throwing intermediate in+out breaking routes earlier when he recognizes his target has the leverage advantage on the defender is key. Many times his target will already have a step on the defender at the start of the stem, and Pickett should make the throw just before the break, but his hesitation leads to a negative play or leaving yards on the field. One physical downside to nitpick is his reportedly small hands and that translates to the field when scrambling and bracing for a hit as Pickett has 23 fumbles in his first three seasons, but to his credit has just one fumble in 2021.


Big-armed, lean QB who has good pocket presence and AA to escape the pocket and scan downfield, looking to pass before committing to a run. Very good ball placement and manages Pro-Style Offense well, regularly advancing past his first read. Lacks anticipation on throwing windows and has small hands, even wearing two gloves. His vast experience could lead to starter production on the right team and he can become a solid starter throughout his career.


Born in Oakhurst, New Jersey, Kenny Pickett grew up in an athletic family, his father was an All-American Linebacker for Shippensburg University, his mother played soccer at Kutztown University and his sister played soccer at East Stroudsburg University. Kenny himself played football at Ocean Township High School in Oakhurst where he passed for 4,670 yards and 43 touchdowns while rushing for 873 yards and 17 Touchdowns. After high school, 247Sports ranked him as a 3-Star recruit, the 738th-best recruit nationally, the 33rd-ranked quarterback recruit in the country and the 21st recruit in the state of Texas.

Kenny had an impressive freshman debut for Pitt in his lone start in 2017, claiming ACC Rookie of the Week for his performance and win against Miami in the season finale. Kenny is one of the most experienced Quarterbacks in the country, starting 35 games in 3 years. Despite the experience, his stats over his career have stagnated a bit, in 2020 he recorded 2,408 passing yards, 13 Touchdowns, 9 Interceptions while completing 61% of his passes. Pickett has enjoyed a breakout 2021 season, through 10 weeks he’s thrown for 3,517 yards, 32 touchdowns to just four interceptions and is completing 67.5% of his passes. 

Floor/Ceiling: Solid Backup / Solid Starter

Scheme Fit: Pro Style Offense, Shotgun, Intermediate and Deep concepts

Grade: Late 1st/Early 2nd


“I’m definitely familiar with Kenny Pickett. I’m excited, really excited to see him flourish. To see him now have that opportunity that I had, these are things that we’ve been dreaming about since we were little. To be able to see him, see that leadership that he has, see him make those extraordinary plays on the field, it’s really special.” - Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor on sharing New Jersey roots with Kenny Pickett

Injury History: 

Minor shoulder injury in 2019, missed one game. Grade 3 high ankle sprain and Grade 2 sprain on outside of ankle in 2020, missed two games. Minor rib injury in 2021, did not miss time.

Character Notes: 

Pickett has been praised by many who know him and his game, Executive Director of the Senior Bowl, Jim Nagy, said that “He’ll play on Sundays” and was quite fond of his mechanics, stating “[Pickett is] one of the most mechanically sound guys we’ve seen over past few drafts”. Kenny is someone who can easily be projected as a locker-room leader, something that is necessary out of the position. Pitt WR Coach, Chris Beatty knows that Kenny is ready to shine “The confidence that Kenny brings is immense” and “He’s our leader… he makes us a better team”. Kenny’s a warrior and leader by example, fighting through a Grade 3 high ankle sprain, plus Grade 2 sprains on the inside and outside of his lower ankle vs Boston College in 2020 and returning to the game after a timeout was taken to assess the injury. The intangibles and on-field glimpses have garnered the respect of his coaches, Offensive Coordinator+Quarterbacks Coach, Mark Whipple, told Kenny, “You’ve got a chance to be a Hall of Famer here at Pitt.” 

12/05/21 - When the Pittsburgh Panthers announced in 2011 that they would join the ACC, few expected that they would compete for the conference championship. On Saturday night they did just that, as their defense shut out the high-flying Wake Forest passing attack through the final three quarters. The defense had always been the Panthers calling card since Pat Narduzzi took over as head coach in 2015, after previously serving as defensive coordinator for Michigan State. But it was the offense for so many years that prevented them from getting over the hump. This year that changed, as quarterback Kenny Pickett was finally healthy and had the pieces around him to dominate in his fourth year as the starter. In the ACC championship game, he not only showed off his precision passing and sound decision-making but also had an exciting touchdown run, including a fake slide.