NFL Draft 2022: Kenny Pickett believes he will be the first quarterback taken

We are less than a month away from the 2022 NFL Draft. Unlike recent years where there has been a clear quarterback prospect that is sitting atop the class — like Joe Burrow (2020) or Trevor Lawrence (2021) — this signal-caller group is lacking top-tier pedigree to make any one of them a slam dunk selection like we’ve seen in the past. However, that does make for an interesting storyline to follow heading into the draft, specifically regarding which quarterback will hear his name called first. 

If you ask Pitt’s Kenny Pickett, as Adam Breneman did on a recent episode of “Breneman Shows Up,” he believes he’ll be the first QB to shake Roger Goodell’s hand on stage.

“I think so,” Pickett told Breneman, as transcribed by Pro Football Talk. “I think there’s a lot of reasons for it. You look at the game now and how it’s changing. . . . I’m a mobile guy that [played] in a West Coast pro-style system. I started at a program that was 5-7 the first year I was in. We left as ACC champions, 11-2. So I know how to win. I know the process it takes to get there. It’s never an easy thing and I’ll make that transition, I feel like, faster in the NFL now because [of] that experience . . . that I know how to go about my business as a pro, kind of being an older guy. At the end of the day, that’s what . . . coming around to the position, it’s like, ‘Can you win? Do you know how to handle all the things it takes to be a quarterback?’ I definitely do. So I think I am QB1.”

Currently, CBS Sports’s prospect rankings have Pickett as the third-ranked quarterback in this class and the No. 25 ranked player overall. At his position, Pickett is looking up at the top-ranked quarterback in Matt Corral out of Ole Miss and Liberty’s Malik Willis. Caesars Sportsbook currently lists Willis as the favorite to be the first quarterback drafted at -200 with Pickett second in those odds at +190. In his latest mock draft, CBS Sports Senior NFL Draft analyst Ryan Wilson has Willis as the first passer drafted, being selected by the Carolina Panthers at No. 6 overall. Wilson has Pickett coming off the board at No. 18 overall where the Saints are currently slated to pick. 

“Pickett made the right decision to return to Pitt for the ’21 season, and in the process, he worked himself into the first-round conversation,” Wilson writes in his explanation for placing Pickett in New Orleans. “The question is where does he get selected because, depending on who you talk to, it could be anywhere from top-10 to bottom of Round 1.”

Other QB-needy teams in the first round that could be a landing spot for Pickett include the Carolina Panthers (No. 6 overall), Atlanta Falcons (No. 8), or the Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 20) if he falls. 

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