Kenny Pickett looking more and more like ideal quarterback pick for the Lions

After NFL teams descended upon Heinz Field last week, Kenny Pickett looks more and more like the ideal quarterback for the Detroit Lions to draft come April.

Even though the Detroit Lions were not there, plenty of NFL teams did have someone present at Heinz Field last Thursday night when North Carolina played Pittsburgh. Of course, they were there to see two of the top quarterback prospects in the 2022 draft–Pitt’s Kenny Pickett and UNC’s Sam Howell,

Pickett and Howell are in the mix to be taken in the first round, and they’ve both gone to the Lions in some mock drafts. Pickett has had a Joe Burrow-like rise this year, and he had a nice outing against the Tar Heels (25-for-43 for 346 yards, three touchdowns, one interception). Howell was fairly good himself (22-for-33, 296 yards, two touchdowns and one interception; one rushing touchdown).

But Pickett might be creating distance between the other quarterback prospects.

Kenny Pickett looks like ideal quarterback for Lions to draft in April

Here’s what Pickett’s trainer, TEST Football Academy quarterbacks coach Tony Racioppi, told FanSided’s Matt Lombardo about his pupil.

“His mental toughness, his ability to see the field, and make quick decisions and process information quickly,” TEST Football Academy QB coach Tony Racioppi tells FanSided are Pickett’s best attributes. “He’s kind of been the perfect storm of someone who was a late bloomer, he’s grown into this over 6-foot-3 and 225-pound quarterback, and when he first got to Pitt he faced high expectations but he struggled, worked through it, and persevered.”

“When I talk to scouts now, the concepts that they run at Pitt and the routes they run at Pitt at the depths they run them at Pitt, are literally what you see on Sundays,” Racioppi explains. “From an evaluation standpoint, it’s apples-to-apples.

“You see him changing protections. You see him in the shotgun and under center. You see him taking NFL drops and throwing NFL balls … You see him do that over and over again over the past two years, with so much film of it out there, you’re going to get an NFL kid who’s ready to start immediately as he possibly can be.”

Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi has also cited Pickett’s NFL-readiness playing in the Panthers’ offense, and the idea he is the most pro-ready quarterback prospect in the upcoming draft class is not a reach.

At this point, there’s a solid chance Pickett is drafted before the Lions go on the clock with their second first-round pick, and taking him with their own early first-rounder (No. 1 overall?) wouldn’t be ideal from a value perspective. But they could combine an early second-round pick with that late first-rounder to trade up to where they can get him. Or maybe they trade down from No. 1 if they’re there, accumulate some extra picks and drop down to more ideal range to take Pickett–which could still be top-10.

All in all, securing someone who can play right away without waiting until into next season to replace Jared Goff would be ideal for the Lions. Pickett looks he’d be that guy, above Howell or any of the other top 2022 quarterback prospects.