Pitt QB Kenny Pickett Is 'A Good Version of' Johnny Manziel, Says NFL Exec

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVDecember 13, 2021

Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett looks to pass against Wake Forest during the first half of the Atlantic Coast Conference championship NCAA college football game Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
AP Photo/Chris Carlson

There is no clear favorite to be the first quarterback taken in the 2022 NFL draft, but Pittsburgh's Kenny Pickett has impressed scouts.

One AFC executive provided an interesting comparison, telling Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated: "He's a good version of Johnny Football—better frame, head on shoulders and arm, and he's a better leader."

Johnny Manziel (6'0", 207 lbs) was a first-round pick in 2014 out of Texas A&M, but he only lasted two seasons and eight starts in the NFL.

The executive continued: "Athletic, gutsy. … Kind of hit the scene hard out of nowhere like [Joe] Burrow and balled out. Love the kid. He's got the it factor. Kid has balls. … We have a ways to go, but definitely if the draft was today, he would be [the first quarterback] taken."

The 6'3", 220-pound senior enters the bowl season with 4,319 passing yards and 42 touchdowns against seven interceptions in 13 games, adding 233 rushing yards and five touchdowns on the ground.

Pickett also led Pittsburgh to an ACC title and an appearance in the Peach Bowl while finishing third in voting for the Heisman Trophy.

He turned heads during the ACC Championship Game with a fake slide that led to a rushing touchdown:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Kenny Pickett BURNED Wake Forest on this TD 💨<br><br>(via <a href="https://twitter.com/Pitt_FB?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Pitt_FB</a>)<a href="https://t.co/ZgWJLZ1upL">pic.twitter.com/ZgWJLZ1upL</a>

Despite his production and highlight-reel plays, there could be some concern of him being a one-year wonder after never topping 13 touchdown passes in any of his previous four seasons at Pittsburgh.

For recent similar examples, Joe Burrow has played well in the NFL after just one year of college dominance, but the jury is still out on 2020 breakout star Zach Wilson.

It leaves a wide-open race for the top quarterback in the 2022 class, with Cincinnati's Desmond Ridder, Liberty's Malik Willis and Ole Miss' Matt Corral the other top contenders.