New Mock Draft Sends 2022 Dark-Horse Heisman Candidate to Falcons

Kenny Pickett

Getty Kenny Pickett #8 of the Pittsburg Panthers.

It’s the Atlanta Falcons‘ bye week, which means it’s a good time to turn our attention to the latest mock draft.

And thankfully, Draft Wire’s Luke Easterling released a brand new three-round mock draft just in time. Easterling doesn’t have Atlanta taking Matt Ryan’s future replacement right away in the first round –– instead, they turn to Texas A&M defensive lineman DeMarvin Leal at No. 8 overall.

From there, Easterling has the Falcons continuing to bolster their defense in the second round with Ohio State edge Zach Harrison and then Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback Kenny Pickett with their second pick in round two. Lastly, Easterling tops off his mock draft with Atlanta selecting Notre Dame running back Kyren Williams in the third round.

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Pickett ‘Should Be a Heisman Candidate,’ His Coach Says

Pickett is the most intriguing and underrated pick in Easterling’s mock draft. Since signing with the University of Pittsburgh’s 2017 class, Pickett has made a name for himself. But this season has him turning heads.

The Panthers star has accounted for 19 touchdowns to just one interception so far this season and in mid-October holds the highest PFF grade in the nation, which has some very important people talking and calling him a dark-horse Heisman candidate.

Former quarterback and ESPN analyst Robert Griffin III, who won the Heisman Trophy in 2011 playing at Baylor University,  included Pickett on his “Heisman Watch” list on October 10.

As a 2020 senior, Pickett was on track to enter the 2021 draft, but he failed to produce the numbers that scouts wanted to see due to an ankle injury. As a result, he took full advantage of eligibility granted by the NCAA as a result of the pandemic to return to his college team for another year rather than entering the NFL draft.

Before entering a bye week, the Panthers smacked Georgia Tech 52-21 on Saturday, October 2, and in that game alone, Pickett threw for 389 yards and four touchdowns.

“This is what I expected to come back and do,” Pickett told ESPN after the game. “All the work we put in is paying off, so we’ve got to keep it going.”

Following the win, Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi gave him the Heisman nod.

“He should be a Heisman candidate,” Narduzzi said, via ESPN. “It’s what he is right now. The guy is so smooth, he’s so calm. … He’s a smart football player, and it takes time to get that where you want it to be. He’s put the work in and he deserves what he’s getting right now.”

But Pickett was modest about the praise, according to ESPN. “You guys can figure that one out,” he told the outlet. “I’m just going to keep playing. We’ve got seven games to go. I want a championship. That’s why I came back.”

Pickett Is Breaking Records

Pickett is also setting new benchmarks as a super senior and has thrown 15 touchdown passes over the last three games, breaking Dan Marino’s school record for most TD passes in a three-game stretch (13 in 1981).

Also through that three-game stretch, Pickett has thrown at least four TD passes –– the longest streak by any ACC quarterback since Seattle’s Russell Wilson did it for NC State back in 2009.

Heading into Week 6 of CFB, Pickett ranks top five in the nation through seven different categories, including passing yards per game (346.2), pass efficiency, passing yards (1,731), passing TDs (19), total offense (374.6 YPG), Total QBR and TDs responsible for (21).

If you want to catch a glimpse of the dark horse QB yourself, Pickett and company take on Virginia Tech on the road Saturday, October 12.


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