Kenny Pickett’s time as a passed-over prospect ended quite a while ago. Now the questions surrounding him have turned to whether or not he’ll be the first quarterback selected in the 2022 NFL Draft and if he’ll take home the Heisman Trophy.
Pickett has just one more game to play this year—in the Peach Bowl against the No. 11-ranked Michigan State Spartans—after capping off a historic season as one of the most exciting risers to watch in college football.
Pickett finished his most recent game, the ACC Championship, completing 20-of-33 passes for 253 yards with two touchdowns, zero interceptions, and one rushing touchdown. Pickett continued to add to the accolades and further etch his name into the record books, throwing his 80th career touchdown pass to break Dan Marino’s record for the most in school history. That came just one week after he became the first passer in ACC history since 1953 to throw for 4,000 or more yards with at least 40 touchdown passes in a single season.
The score on the ground during the Wake Forest game was the one he received the most attention for that day because of the fake slide (have we ever seen one of those before?) and the amount of speed he showed on the play—the Demon Deacons defenders never stood a chance on that one. Regardless of what Ryan Clark thinks about how this could affect targeting penalties moving forward, it’s the perfect showcase of the amount of grit, playmaking ability, and underrated mobility that Pickett brings to the table.
Watching Pickett’s game, a lot of it looks similar to that of former LSU quarterback Joe Burrow’s—plays like those showcase the sort of “sneaky mobility” they both share, though they’re definitely not quarterbacks who are going to run the ball themselves on a lot of plays. But the two respectable quarterbacks also share the same kind of mental prowess, the ability to make impressive throws accurately and consistently at all levels of the field, and the same type of confidence, toughness, and composure you want to see out of a leadership figure at the quarterback position. The comparisons are also easy to see when looking at their last and second-to-last college football seasons. The numbers produced aren’t a product of drastic changes made around them, short plays over-inflating their stats, or receivers putting up a tremendous amount of yards after the catch to help pad the stats sheet.
Of course, there are differences and no two quarterbacks are ever the same. But a comparison like that one certainly bodes well for Pickett considering that Burrow did take home the highest honor in college football and though he’s experienced some injury and adversity, mentally seems to have made one of the smoothest transitions we’ve seen out of a quarterback taking the next step to the NFL in recent history. Given his success within Pitt’s pro-style offense, it’s hard to think that Pickett won’t do the same.