NFL Draft 2022: Final 32-pick Round 1 mock with trades

"THE PICK IS IN" for the San Francisco 49ers during the 2018 NFL Draft (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
"THE PICK IS IN" for the San Francisco 49ers during the 2018 NFL Draft (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /
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Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh Panthers
Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback Kenny Pickett (8) Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports /

Kenny Pickett. 6. player. 866. . Quarterback. Panthers

NFL Draft Pick No. 6: Carolina Panthers – Kenny Pickett, Quarterback, Pittsburgh

Sam Darnold is a lost cause, their pursuit of other quarterbacks haven’t gone well and barring a trade for either Baker Mayfield or Jimmy Garoppolo, the Carolina Panthers simply must come out of this draft with either Malik Willis or Kenny Pickett.

In such a weak quarterback class, the football world was waiting for someone to stand out among the pack, and that was Pickett. He had a very strong senior season at Pittsburgh, and the emergence of Mac Jones as the best of the rookie quarterbacks last season should see teams less afraid of taking a quarterback that doesn’t have elite arm strength.

And to be honest, that’s unfair to Pickett, because while he doesn’t have the cannon Willis has, his arm strength is perfectly functional to make the throws to the deep ends of the field.

But where Pickett could be picked ahead of Willis is the mental side. He’s an excellent leader and very accurate with his throws. He makes good decisions with the football and his decision-making is above what you would expect from a quarterback who hasn’t played in the NFL yet.

Simply put. if Pickett had the arm Willis had to go with the tools in his arsenal, the No. 1 pick would already be decided. A team would have traded a lot with Jacksonville to get their hands on Pickett.

Pickett threw for 4,319 yards this season, 42 touchdowns and only seven interceptions to go with a 67.2-percent completion rate. In a weak quarterback class, I truly believe Pickett can be a franchise quarterback in the NFL, and while I understand a team is more like to fall in love with Willis’ physical gifts and take him first, I would have Pickett as QB1 on my draft board.