Kenny Pickett is one of the top prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft, and most experts believe he will be the first quarterback selected this year. He has had an incredible 2021 college football season, accounting for 47 total touchdowns. He finished in third place in Heisman Trophy voting.
The massive 2021 season has skyrocketed Pickett towards the top of every draft board for quarterbacks this year. His value has significantly improved from where it was a year ago. If he had entered the NFL Draft last year, he likely would have been a mid-round pick. He had accounted for 54 total touchdowns in his previous four seasons combined, so he nearly doubled that in 2021 alone.
Following the 2020 season, Pickett was debating whether or not he should declare for the 2021 NFL Draft. He ultimately decided to return to college for another season, and it worked out great for him. He credited part of his decision to legendary quarterback Peyton Manning in a story he told at the 2022 NFL combine.
“The decision to come back to Pitt after that 2020 year, Peyton gave me a lot of insight that helped me make that decision... The best decision for me was to come back to school. Obviously, I’m in a better situation this year than I was last year if I had decided to come out. I’m really grateful for all of the advice he gave me.” -Kenny Pickett on Peyton Manning's advice to return to college for the 2021 season
According to Pickett, Peyton Manning's advice was one of the reasons why he decided to stay in school for another year. Ironically, the former Denver Broncos legend may have helped his old team potentially find their future quarterback in Pickett.
Why Kenny Pickett could be the next Denver Broncos quarterback
The Denver Broncos will reportedly be seeking a new quarterback during the 2022 NFL offseason after being unimpressed with Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock. They are expected to be heavily involved in the trade market if one of the superstars becomes available, but if a deal doesn't get done before the NFL Draft, they could look to use their first-round pick on their future quarterback.
The Broncos currently own the 9th overall pick in the 2022 draft, so they may have their choice of quarterback if they go that route. If they decide to take Kenny Pickett, which is very possible, they can thank Peyton Manning for talking him into another year of college.