According to a report from NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the Detroit Lions have scheduled a pre-draft visit with Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett. As noted by Pelissero, this is currently the only known visit the Lions have scheduled with a quarterback in this year’s class.
The Lions likely got an initial up-close look at Pickett during the Senior Bowl this year. Although Pickett was on the Jets-coached team during the week, there is a day in which the teams swap rosters. Additionally, as reported by The Athletic’s Chris Burke, Lions quarterback coach Mark Brunell attended Pickett’s pro day at Pitt. Apparently, the Lions want to get to know Pickett a little better.
At Pittsburgh, Pickett showed significant growth throughout his four years of starting there. His senior year, his statistical output exploded, throwing for career highs in yardage (4,319), touchdowns (42), and completion percentage (67.2), all while throwing just seven interceptions. He was named first-team All American, finished third in Heisman voting, and was the recipient of the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm award, which is given to the top upperclassman quarterback in the country.
Pickett is considered, by many, one of the top quarterback prospects in this year’s draft class, if not the top prospect. While he doesn’t have the elite arm strength that some of the others in this year’s class boast, his accuracy—both on and off platform—are above average, and his defense-reading skills may be the best amongst this class. He doesn’t have the most mobility in this class, but he not afraid to tuck and run, as evidenced by his 241 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns last year.
Of course, the main narrative around Pickett is his hand size, which measured in at an extremely-below average 8-and-1/2 inches. In fact, there are no current NFL quarterbacks with a hand size that small. However, Pickett brushed away concerns that hand size would impact his ball security, especially in inclement weather.
“The good news is that I play in Pittsburgh. Anyone that’s been to Pittsburgh knows it’s not the nicest place to play in October, November,” Pickett said during Senior Bowl week per ESPN. “So I’ve had experience playing in tough weather.”
If the Lions are interested in selecting Pickett, they may have to spend their second overall pick on him or trade up from the 32nd overall selection at the bottom of the first round. But it’s important to remember that Lions general manager Brad Holmes has previously expressed that it’s good business to get to know the quarterbacks in any draft class.
“I just think it’s good drafting business always to be very, very thorough on that quarterback class regardless of what your situation is,” Holmes said last year.
So is the Lions’ interest in Pickett real? Are they trying to throw a smokescreen to other teams? Or are they just doing due diligence to make sure they know Pickett through-and-through.
The draft is just two weeks away, y’all.