(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
After a prolific 2021 season where he led Pitt to an ACC Championship title and was a Heisman Finalist, Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett is considered by many as the top quarterback in this year's draft.
Pickett literally came out of nowhere this past season, as his 42-7 touchdown-interception ratio and 4,319 yards passing are not even recognizable to his stats in his first three years as Pitt's starting quarterback.
Prior to throwing 42 touchdown passes in 2021, Pickett's career-high was just 13 touchdowns in a season. Pickett is labeled as a one-year wonder by some because of this, but Bill Cowher told Ed Bouchette of The Athletic that he likes the fact that Pickett was a four-year starter and a fifth-year senior.
“You see these guys coming out after one or two years, you’re doing yourself a disservice,” Cowher told Bouchette.
Bouchette cited the example of Joe Burrow, who was a two-year starter at LSU after three seasons at Ohio State as a backup. Burrow was drafted at No. 1 overall by the Bengals in 2019 and is currently one of the best young quarterbacks in the league. In fact, Burrow has Cincinnati in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday against the Chiefs. I'm not sure if Pickett is the next Burrow, but he is the latest example of a high profile fifth-year senior quarterback making the jump from the college level to the NFL.
“That’s what I love about Kenny Pickett,” Cowher said. “He’s become a better quarterback at that level, and that will make him a better quarterback at the next level. History has shown that.”
Most early mock drafts have the Broncos selecting Pickett at ninth overall. The Steelers have the 20th pick, so it's unlikely that Pickett will be the heir apparent to Ben Roethlisberger unless the Steelers trade up for the star Pitt quarterback.