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Kenny Pickett ranked No. 1 QB in NFL draft by Mel Kiper Jr.

Kiper: “Pickett is making a leap not unlike Joe Burrow’s from two seasons ago.”

Pitt v Tennessee Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. released his 2022 NFL draft rankings on Tuesday, and he placed Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett atop his list of available signal-callers. And in addition to ranking Pickett No. 1 among draft-ready quarterbacks, Kiper also ranked him No. 15 overall among 2022 NFL draft prospects.

“Pickett is making a leap not unlike Joe Burrow’s from two seasons ago,” Kiper said. “After his impressive performance against Clemson, I’m ready to put him on my Big Board. The fifth-year senior has been tremendous this season, completing 68.9 percent of his passes with 23 touchdowns and just one interception. He ranks third in the country in QBR (88.1). He has 18 career rushing touchdowns. Pickett was up and down the past two seasons, throwing 18 picks and averaging 6.9 yards per attempt. He’s up to 9.2 this season. He is accurate to all three levels of the field, has shown patience in taking the checkdown throws when necessary and has good zip on his throws. Offensive coordinator Mark Whipple has done a great job with Pickett’s development.”

Kiper went onto caution that the bad tape from Pickett’s previous seasons could come back to haunt him and that the class of quarterbacks for 2022 is “far from settled.” But he also praised Pickett for his mobility and noted that his experience — which includes 43 starts at this point — should benefit him in the draft.

Pickett is in the midst of his best season to date, and he has enjoyed a meteoric rise in 2021 after an average start to his career and a 2020 season in which frequent drops by receivers and injury issues put a damper on his stat line. However, with Pickett now playing at 100 percent and benefiting from a group of more experienced receivers, he has hit his stride and reached a new level. And if Pickett can continue to produce the way he has been, he could find himself coming off the board on the first night of the 2022 NFL draft in April.