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Kenny Pickett playing mistake-free ball in Pitt training camp

NCAA Football: Pittsburgh at Virginia Tech Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Pitt’s training camp has been relatively quiet for the most part. Coaches usually don’t want to heap too much praise on a particular player, instead dangling the carrot that they need to continue to improve, etc.

Head coach Pat Narduzzi isn’t flat out gushing over Pickett but it’s easy to see that he’s pleased with what he sees. The bulk of the practice time isn’t open to the media, so we’re sort of at the mercy of the coaches and players to give any real insight on how players are performing. Narduzzi says Pickett is not making mistakes.

“Kenny has been really good,” said Narduzzi. “He’s sharp. He doesn’t make bad decisions. He scrambles with the ball when he needs to. He’s got a great pocket presence—as good as I’ve seen—just knowing when to get out of there and not throw it. So he doesn’t force the ball.”

Pocket presence as good as he’s seen? For a true sophomore, it’s hard not to be encouraged by that. Still, it’s difficult to get an accurate sense of just how good Pickett is right now. The practices are mostly closed and, in terms of actual game time, Pickett’s really played only about 2 1/2 games. In that time, he’s thrown only one interception but the fact remains that he’s still somewhat of a question mark when you’ve played so little. All of that said, Narduzzi’s review of him makes it easy to get excited.

Pickett’s value, of course, includes his mobility. Narduzzi’s saying he just has a natural ability for scrambling.

“That guy has an instinct,” Narduzzi added. “You can teach all you want, but he’s got a knack, too. I’m just watching sometimes the pressures that are coming, how he steps up and weasels around and gets out of them like, ‘holy cow.’

So how does Pickett rank with other quarterbacks during training camps that he’s seen? While Narduzzi freely acknowledged not spending much time with quarterbacks before becoming a head coach at Pitt, he made it clear that Pickett has been the best of the bunch since he’s been with the Panthers. When asked about if any Pitt quarterback has been as mistake-free as Pickett has been, he responded, “Not here.”

Narduzzi is only entering his fourth season, obviously, so he’s not comparing Pickett to dozens of guys or anything. It’s also worth pointing out that he’s not necessarily declaring Pickett to be the best quarterback - only that he has made the fewest mistakes of any Pitt quarterback during camp. That said, that was comparing Pickett’s camp against two camps from Nathan Peterman, who eventually went on to become drafted in the NFL last year.

We still have to temper expectations until Pickett gets on the field this year. There are a lot of factors such as a lack of known playmakers on offense as well as a retooled offensive line But indications out of camp this year are that Pickett is the real deal.

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