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Is Kenny Pickett the Lions' Quarterback of the Future?

Read more on whether Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback Kenny Pickett is the Detroit Lions' QB of the future.

Unorthodox.

If I was sitting in an NFL war room and I was asked to describe University of Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett, that is the one word I would use.

From the way he sets up to throw, to the way his passes look, it just looks unorthodox. Pickett gives off a quirky vibe.

Unorthodox and quirky are not necessarily bad - - a team just needs to know what it is getting.

Pickett is one of the more interesting prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft, because all the numbers are there (this year). But, I was not impressed in the three games I watched on film.

His 2021 statistics are as follows: 166 completions out of 248 attempts, 68.9 percent completion rate, 2,236 yards, 23 touchdowns and just one interception. 

The touchdown-to-interception ratio is staggering. However, it has not always been this way. 

In 2020, Pickett's touchdown-to-interception ratio was 13-to-nine, and in 2019, it was also 13-to-nine. Meanwhile, in 2018, it was 12-to-six. 

He missed two games last season with an ankle injury, and was said to be "up and down" after returning.

This season, his total quarterback rating has gone through the roof, going from the 120 range -- which is where it was the previous three seasons -- to a staggering 176.1.

Is this a sign of maturity as a quarterback, or is this an aberration?

Game film provides clues.

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#8 QB Kenny Pickett - 6-foot-3, 220 pounds 

40-yard dash time: 4.77

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Games reviewed: Western Michigan, Georgia Tech and Clemson (2021).

Grade: Fifth-round

NFL comparable: Rusty Hilger

Scouting Report

A quarterback with good size and average mobility who lacks pocket poise. He has a good arm but questionable ball placement. Rough around the edges. Good ball handling, and he has an effective play-action fake. 

However, he is jumpy in the pocket. Happy feet. He just plain looks uncomfortable in the pocket. He shows a tendency to take off at the first sign of pressure. Spooked easily. Runs around a lot. Sandlot football player. Not the type to hang in there and gun it. When he does set his feet, he has a wide base and an elongated throwing motion. Big push off and delivery. Tendency to lock in with receivers. Good arm strength. Gets zip on the ball. Decent at the short-to-intermediate route levels. Best over the middle. Inconsistent deep.

Does not always throw the easiest of passes to catch, and he makes receivers go and get it. Questionable and inconsistent ball placement (very high or very low). Tends to take sacks. Average mobility. Tough guy. Runs hard, and he can slide. He does not take unnecessary chances with the football. 

Far less polished-looking against Clemson than against Georgia Tech and Western Michigan. His character background research returned clean. He is another one of these good statistical passers in college that lacks the necessary starting skill set to translate well to the next level. The type who will come into a game and provide a spark, though. 

Pickett just does not look comfortable enough to start at the next level. He does not have dominant traits. There is nothing consistent about his game.

Quarterbacks can get away with erratic ball placement in college, but that will turn into interceptions in the NFL. 

Quarterbacks can also get away with locking in with receivers in college, but that is like sending a text message to an NFL defensive back that reads, "I am throwing the ball your way."

I do think Pickett has a future in the NFL. He has enough of a skill set to be a career backup (second or third string). 

I am not sold on the rhythm or tempo he leads an offense with, though. He makes the offense feel hurried. It feels too herky-jerky with him at the helm. 

There was nothing about his game that excites me. There was nothing I could warm up to. 

Detroit needs a lot more from its quarterback of the future, than what Pickett has been showing this season on game film.