Steelers take Kenny Pickett in 2022 NFL Draft: Fantasy football and Dynasty outlook, scouting report, more

The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett with the 20th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Despite reports suggesting the Steelers could trade for a quarterback, many linking them to the quarterback- Liberty guard Malik Willis, they remained patient and were rewarded with their No. 1 quarterback overall. Pickett was the first quarterback to leave the roster — down to 20th overall.

Pickett is a Jersey Shore kid, growing up less than 10 minutes from the beach in northern New Jersey and an hour’s drive on New York’s Garden State Parkway. He started playing football at the age of 6 and became “a more fluid athlete”, according to his coach at Ocean Township High School. It was there that he led the Spartans to the state regional semi-final game as a junior. In three years as a starter, Pickett had 4,670 yards and 43 touchdowns through the air and 873 yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground.

A 247Sports three-star prospect, Pickett originally contracted to play under coach Matt Rhule at Temple but changed his mind after receiving more offers and eventually signed up at Pitt early. He started in his true freshman year, earning his first victory against a previously undefeated Miami side. Pickett missed just four starts over the next four years, ending his college career with an outstanding 62.4 percent completion rate, 12,303 yards, 81 touchdowns and 32 interceptions as well as 809 rushing yards and 20 ground scores. He finished as the school’s all-time leading passer in yards and touchdowns as well as total touchdowns. Pickett also threw for the most 300 and 400 yard games in school history. Pretty impressive considering who the Panthers quarterback was in the early 1980s.

Age at week 1: 24 | Height: 6-3 1/4 | Mass: 217 | 40 times: 4.73

Body type comparable to: Jared Goff

We break down everything you need to know about Pickett from a fantasy manager’s perspective, including best fits, Dynasty outlook, measurables, scouting report, key stats and an NFL comparison.

Fantastic prospects

Pickett may have been hoping to hear his name earlier in the first round, but in the long run, there might be no better choice for him than to join the Steelers and stay at Pittsburgh State. The Steelers are also one of the best possible fits for Pickett from a fantasy football perspective. Not only is he joining wide-open quarterback competition against Mitchell Trubisky and Mason Rudolph, but he’s also joining a team that has great defense in place, a workaholic alpha that comes down to Najee Harris (with the ability to have an impact in the passing game for easy check-down options early for Pickett), and an offensive line that’s made a major leap in 2021. With Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool, the Steelers will offer him a vertical threat (Claypool) and the perfect option underneath (Johnson) – plus a chain-moving red zone threat in TE Pat Freiermuth. And if we know the Steelers, they’ll likely find another Day 3 steal at receiver to give Pickett another option. –Dan Schneier

Dynasty Prospects

Pickett looks like an almost ready starter to me who will be short and probably start before he should. He’s not the kind of quarterback who will turn an average receiver into a good receiver and a good receiver into a great one. On the contrary, he will flourish statistically if he is in a good pattern surrounded by a good O-line and good receivers. The good news is that with the exception of the offensive line, he has exactly that with the Steelers. That’s why he’ll have a shot at some decent numbers in 2022 if he beats Trubisky with the potential to grow with them and become a potential low-end Fantasy starter over the next three seasons. Expect him to get snagged with a second-round pick in the rookie draft at a QB Dynasty and somewhere between third and sixth overall in the two-QB/Superflex formats.

Screening report

Strengths

  • Experimented. Was a four-year starter in the ACC.
  • Ideal height for the position.
  • Impressive reading and reaction skills allowed him to get rid of the ball smoothly.
  • Frequently displayed good posture and pocket footwork.
  • Not often troubled by oncoming pressure and usually kept his eyes focused on the pitch.
  • Compact trigger and effortless casting motion.
  • Best as a pace setter. Frequently backed up and fired at a short or intermediate target.
  • Throw with good velocity. Lots of gunshots on the film.
  • The strong arm was able to land far side throws. If necessary, place the ball more than 50 meters in the air.
  • Knew when a play was going nowhere and threw a ball – or even threw it near a covered receiver in hopes of shooting a flagstick.
  • Mobility was a key part of his game. Preferred for escaping pressurized pockets instead of forcing a soccer ball. Prolonged games and kept his eyes on the field. Could manipulate defenders by faking running, then throwing to open receiver after defender breaks loose. Thrown a catchable ball while on the move.
  • Not quite a “double threat” quarterback, but would improvise with his legs to pick up yardage. Averaged 7.5 rushes per game in 2021. Converted many short distance downs with his legs and didn’t hesitate to burrow on the goal line.
  • Should be able to properly lead a West-Coast attack from week 1.

Concerns

  • The level of competition was strictly fair. Has had 11 career starts against the top 25 teams, but only five in the past two seasons and only once in 2021.
  • Lean body. It’s unclear if he’ll be able to withstand NFL hits.
  • Double-jointed thumbs on undersized hands. Not only could his smaller hands lead to fumbles (38 college career fumbles), but hypermobilized people tend to be at higher risk of dislocating joints elsewhere on the body.
  • Was in shotgun formation for all but four dropouts last year. Must be proficient in football handling under center (worked on this in the Senior Bowl).
  • At times he was nervous in the pocket and sometimes left the pocket too soon rather than getting into the throws.
  • Would occasionally throw his back foot, especially when he saw an open receiver earlier than expected. Had the muscle in his arm to get the ball there but without his typical speed. Those assists could turn into turnovers in the pros.
  • Needs to work with his post-snap readings, especially 15+ yards out in the field. Pickett sometimes completely missed a traveling safety that sabotaged his passes. Would occasionally make a seemingly pre-determined throw regardless of coverage and not connect. Lots of bad decisions at the end of 2021.
  • Accuracy was relatively good, but there were a number of inaccurate throws that cost his team yards.
  • Surgery for a sprained left ankle cost him two games in 2020.

Breakdown of statistics

g Cmp % Pay Yds/Att PaTD Painting RuAtt RuYds RuMoy RuTD
2021 13 67.2 4319 8.7 42 7 97 241 2.5 5
2021 against Top-25 1 60.6 253 7.7 2 0 6 20 3.3 1
Career 52 62.4 12303 7.3 81 32 416 809 1.9 20

Advanced Stats You Need to Know

  • 8.5% TD rate in 2021 (11th best)
  • 67.2 completion rate in 2021 (17th)
  • Top 10 pass attempts over 10 (192), over 15 (121) and over 20 (74) yards down
  • 1,853 of his passing yards came after catch (10th at most)
  • No interceptions thrown from less than 10 yards last season, and only one in his career
  • Three interceptions in 187 career red zone pass attempts
  • 29.2% career TD rate on passes thrown from under 10 yards (123rd among QBs in past 5 years)
  • 42 passing touchdowns in 2021 set a new ACC all-time record, beating Deshaun Watson’s 41.
  • 38 career fumbles

NFL Comparison

Derek Carr might have a slightly stronger arm, and Pickett seems much more willing to slip out of the pocket to keep games alive, but they tend to have a lot in common. Carr was especially strong in a West Coast system that called for high-percentage passes; now his career could take off as he is surrounded by elite talent. Pickett isn’t good enough to lift his receivers — his best college season came with a daring point guard at receiver Jordan Addison. But if Pickett is asked to just throw high percentage passes while working in a little more woven mobile/spread/RPO, he should do well and have a solid career like Carr.

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