One play from Kenny Pickett’s career at the University of Pittsburgh could well be an indicator of the kind of player he will be at the NFL level.
Today marks the 24th birthday of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett, the player who was taken with the #20 pick in the NFL Draft back in April, in what might go down as one of the all-time great moves, or one of the all-time blunders.
Coming into the draft, the quarterback class wasn’t exactly getting praised in the way the class of 1983 with John Elway, Dan Marino and Jim Kelly up for selection, or indeed 2004 which saw Eli Manning, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger all selected inside the top 11 picks.
With the next quarterback not going until selection 74, that being Desmond Ridder to the Atlanta Falcons, it means that either the Steelers thought way too highly of him, or the rest of the league thought way to lowly of the rest of the class.
The best of a bad bunch?
Whilst this year’s group might not, at least on paper, be the highest quality when it comes to their NFL futures, looking at Pickett’s numbers, it wasn’t as if he had a particularly bad final year in college, and it makes sense why the Steelers took him to be the heir-apparent to Roethlisberger.
He was named a first-team All-American, finished 3rd in last year’s Heisman trophy standings, and put up over 4,300 yards whilst throwing for 42 touchdowns and just 7 interceptions.
Compare that to fellow prospect Malik Willis at Liberty who only had 2,857 passing yards, 27 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
Pickett was also very handy with his feet too, rushing for 7 touchdowns, but there was one touchdown in particular that showed he’s got quite the football brain that could cause people problems.
One tricky customer
In the ACC Championship game against Wake Forest, Pickett pulled off a move that wouldn’t have looked out of place in a highlight package for someone like Michael Vick.
Breaking out of a collapsed pocket, Pickett takes off towards the end zone into the open field and when facing a would be tackler, fakes as if he’s going to give himself up, before getting back up and running untouched to the endzone:
An insane play to look at, and one that caused a lot of debate in the aftermath about the legality of it:
So much so that the NCAA had to implement a rule to outlaw it in the future. Now even though it may not have totally been in the spirit of the game, hence the NCAA’s ruling, to think that quickly in that situation shows just how well his brain works under pressure.
And it will be interesting to see if a skillet like this could be something that helps him get the better of Mitchell Trubisky in the battle to start for the Steelers.