By: Lucas Kochevar
The Super Bowl has been over now for a week and its officially the off-season. The game wasn't that fantastic, but it was hard to have a better game than what we saw in the previous two rounds. Nonetheless, it's the off-season it's time to start ramping up for the NFL Draft, which is my favorite part of the year since my team stinks. This isn't an article focused on my team, luckily, but it's focused on the crop of new quarterbacks. The 2022 QB class is something we haven't seen in quite some time. There are six guys that could hypothetically be starters in the league, but all six of them could be out of the league in five years. In most years, the draft has seen a guy rise to the top and become the first overall pick, quite easily. Trevor Lawrence, Joe Burrow, and Kyler Murray all became the consensus first picks throughout the draft process. First off, none of these new guys will be taken first since the Jaguars hold the first pick again. Secondly, these QB's were never as good as the first picks from these previous years. Lastly, all the teams have different opinions on these top six guys.
In the end, one guy will rise to the top and become the first QB taken off the board. Whether it's the raw talent of Malik Willis or the leadership of Desmond Ridder, someone will be taken before the rest. In my eyes, the best guy will become the clear-cut favorite and rise to the top as the best quarterback available: Pittsburgh Panthers' QB Kenny Pickett
The New Jersey native decided to return to school for his senior year and made the absolute most of it. Pickett, as a redshirt senior ended up breaking numerous school records and conference records in his last year. He was the best quarterback the school has seen since the likes of Dan Marino. Pickett led the Panthers to the ACC title, where they defeated Wake Forrest. The Panthers made the Chic-Fil-A Peach Bowl, but since he was NFL bound, the Heisman trophy finalist decided to sit the game out.
Pickett has a good frame at 6'3, 220 lbs, but his hand size has been something that many scouts are worried about. He revealed at the Senior Bowl in Mobile that he actually has a double-jointed thumb and he opted to wait until the NFL combine to have his hands measured. Although people don't believe it will affect him, it's something to consider.
The traits that make Pickett special is his accuracy and poise under pressure. Pickett always manages to put the ball in the breadbasket of the receiver and has great touch when to zip it, lob it, or put a little touch on it. The ball placement on passes outside of the pocket is also very impressive. His improvement in that department really took him to the next level and many guys going into their senior year should take not. Next, his pocket presence can be described as chaotic good. He can tend to get jumpy and over exaggerate his movements in the pocket, but there is certain calmness in his eyes that keep the play alive no matter the pressure in his face. He does a wonderful job in evading some defenders and keeping the play alive for his receivers downfield. This leads me to his mobility because mobility and pocket presence are two separate traits. He has solid mobility, likely on the same level of an Alex Smith in his prime.
The negative trait that stands out to me is that you just don't know if he's hit his ceiling. He's had a wonderful year and has positive traits in everything you ask for a quarterback at the college level, but can he keep this growth going with pros coming his way? It's a question that you can pose for any prospect, but quarterback is a spot that you can't stall out. The pressure ramps up even more for him since he has potential to be the first quarterback taken off the board. I think he has the ability to get better and with commitment he can be a top ten quarterback in the league. It's hard to draw comparisons to guys, but he reminds me of a slightly watered-down Joe Burrow, which is still a damn good quarterback. In conclusion, the balance of his attributes and how he can improve upon them make him the best quarterback in this class. He's a guy that I would stand by if my team drafted him.