Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett has carved out a role for himself as the leader of a Panthers offense that has generally underwhelmed over the last three seasons. However, his play has been impressive at times, and in 2019, he posted his best season to date, becoming the fifth Pitt signal-caller to throw for 3,000 yards in a season and ending the program’s streak of bowl losses that began in 2014.
While Pitt and its players are sometimes overlooked by the national media, the New Jersey native’s achievements have not gone unnoticed by NFL scouts and decision-makers. In fact, Jim Nagy, a former NFL scout and the current executive director of the Senior Bowl, singled out Pickett on Friday evening and predicted he will make it to the NFL.
One sleeper QB that will gain traction after NFL scouts dig into tape is Pitt’s Kenny Pickett. Tough & instinctive guy that plays the QB position well. @seniorbowl has been fan of Pickett since seeing him at Manning Camp last year. He’ll play on Sundays. #TheDraftStartsInMOBILE pic.twitter.com/UzeszcYgCd— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) July 10, 2020
“One sleeper QB that will gain traction after NFL scouts dig into tape is Pitt’s Kenny Pickett,” Nagy said in a message on Twitter. “Tough and instinctive guy that plays the QB position well. [The Senior Bowl] has been fan of Pickett since seeing him at Manning Camp last year. He’ll play on Sundays.”
“[Pickett is] one of the most mechanically sound guys we’ve seen over past few drafts,” Nagy added in a subsequent post. ”Incredibly disciplined with his feet — one of the first things that stands out.”
Prior to accepting his current role with the Senior Bowl in 2018, Nagy served as an NFL scout for 18 years. He scouted the Southeast region for the Seattle Seahawks, the West Coast for the Washington Redskins, the Midwest for the New England Patriots and the entire country for the Kansas City Chiefs.
The fact that the executive director of the Senior Bowl went out of his way to praise Pickett unprompted bodes well for the quarterback’s chances of making the college all-star game after his senior year, and that could give him a leg up in getting the recognition that Nagy feels he deserves.
In the past few years, Pitt players like Dane Jackson, Brian O’Neill and Nathan Peterman have earned invites to the game down at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama, and each of them parlayed impressive performances into NFL draft selections a few months later. Jackson went to the Buffalo Bills in the seventh round of the 2020 draft, O’Neill went to the Minnesota Vikings as a second-rounder in 2018 and Peterman went to the Buffalo Bills in the fifth round of the 2017 draft.
While Jackson hasn’t had a chance to prove himself yet, O’Neill quickly earned a starting role on the Vikings offensive line, and Peterman ended up with the Las Vegas Raiders after a tough couple of starts with the Bills.
As for Pickett, if he continues on his current trajectory with another 3,000-yard season, finds the end zone more frequently and can limit his picks, he could find himself in good standing by the time the next draft season rolls around.