The first practice session for the National Team is in the books at the 2022 Senior Bowl, and Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett, who entered the week as the presumptive QB1, finished day one as the most impressive passer on his squad. Joining Pickett on the National Team are Carson Strong (Nevada) and Desmond Ridder (Cincinnati), each of whom had promising moments of their own. But it was Pickett who was the most poised and polished throughout the practice session. It’s important to note a critical disclaimer: Tuesday was the first practice. Quarterbacks are still developing timing with their wide receivers, and even though several passes hit the ground, incompletions at the Senior Bowl aren’t an indictment against any particular prospect. But that doesn’t mean that every pass is insignificant. For example, Strong missed his college teammate, wide receiver Romeo Doubs, on a pass down the sideline that fell short and into harm’s way. That whole timing issue doesn’t apply here; Strong connected with Doubs 80 times for 1,109 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2021. He should be pretty dialed in with his top target at Nevada. The same concern applies to Ridder, who wasn’t in rhythm with one of his primary targets with the Bearcats, wide receiver Alec Pierce. Sure, this is nitpicking, but it does matter. Both Strong and Ridder had a clear advantage over Pickett on Tuesday because of their familiarity with at least one wide receiver, and neither quarterback took advantage of it. Pickett wasn’t perfect either, but he showcased a live arm, smooth and efficient mechanics, and perhaps most importantly, he didn’t have any bad moments that stood out. He did throw an interception that was the result of a bobbled ball by tight end Trey McBride but if any of the National Team’s quarterbacks looked like a prospect who could end up being a first-round pick, it was Pickett. We have a long way to go, however. And it’s important to remember that it’s not one practice that really matters; it’s more about how players—especially quarterbacks—progress during the week of pro coaching and over the course of three practice sessions. Pickett, Strong, and Ridder will have better days this week. For now, though, Pickett’s standing as the top quarterback on his roster remains.
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