Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett was ranked by Pro Football Focus as the No. 3 college football player in the nation for the 2021 season on Monday. The ranking was part of the PFF 101, which ranks the top 101 players at the college level as seen by PFF.
“Pickett is in the conversation for most improved player in all of college football this season,” wrote PFF analyst Anthony Treash. “He was producing more turnover-worthy plays than big-time throws in 2018, 2019 and 2020 while earning PFF grades of 60.6, 75.0 and 69.8 in those three seasons.”
“This year, Pickett produced 12 more big-time throws than turnover-worthy plays (29 to 17) en route to a 92.3 PFF grade,” Treash continued. “Pickett has been calmer under pressure and much more accurate when throwing the deep ball. His wealth of experience was on consistent display throughout 2021.”
Among quarterbacks, Pickett ranked second only to Alabama’s Bryce Young on the list, as Young came in at No. 1 overall. Pickett and Young were the only quarterbacks to rank among the truly elite in 2021, according to PFF, as none of the other 13 who made the list were able to crack the top 10 of the ranking.
Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud finished closest behind them at No. 16, while Virginia’s Brennan Armstrong came in at No. 34 and Wake Forest’s Sam Hartman was ranked No. 48. No other quarterbacks were included in the top 50. As for non-quarterbacks, Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson was the only other player to earn a higher ranking than Pickett, as he was ranked No. 2 overall.
All told, Pickett threw for 4,319 yards and 42 touchdowns in 2021, limiting himself to seven interceptions. Pickett also led the Panthers to an 11-2 record and its first ACC title and seized a number of program records. He finished his college career as Pitt’s all-time leader in completions, passing yards, touchdown passes, total offensive yards and touchdowns responsible for, with a total of 101.
Pickett was joined in the PFF 101 by Pitt wide receiver Jordan Addison, who was ranked No. 24. Addison’s ranking was more controversial than Pickett’s, as he was PFF’s fourth-ranked wide receiver, falling behind Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba (No. 11), Alabama’s Jameson Williams (No. 12) and USC’s Drake London (No. 14), despite leading the nation with 17 touchdown catches and winning the Biletnikoff Award. Pickett and Addison were the only Pitt players included in the PFF 101.