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Kenny Pickett: How Good Is the Freshman Signal Caller?

Taking over for Mitch Trubisky in week 4, Pickett has not been much of an improvement.

New Orleans Saints v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Thanks to the nflFastR project and NFL NextGen Stats for the timely sources of data.

For those of you new to this, I will publish key QB stats each week judging how well the Colts passing game performed. Yes, O-Line, receivers, and play-calling impact these numbers but they are primarily QB measures. I will probably modify the charts throughout the season. Commentary will be brief but feel free to let me know in the comments that stats aren’t everything. (click charts for larger view)

NOTE: All references to rankings are of the top 32 QBs by dropbacks through the current week.

With only 6 starts under his belt, it isn’t really fair to judge the long-term viability of Kenny Pickett yet. However, we can certainly measure the output he has produced so far. As such, all data in this article is for weeks 5 through 11 only.

He has faced very difficult passing defenses and was backed up by one of the least successful run games in the league (2nd opd, 29th arsr). So, right away, he’s behind the eight-ball.

Against below-average pressure, he holds the ball a long time and throws short passes (pr%, 12th ttt, 20th adot). That is the sign of a QB that can’t find open receivers or is hesitant to throw to them.

He has good accuracy (10th cpoe), but it is on short completions (25th ay/c) that get very little yac (30th yac, 32nd yacoe). That is the sign of a check-down master and further evidence that he doesn’t like downfield much. Short completions with little yac adds up to poor efficiency, so a 32nd-ranked yards per attempt is not a surprise and is an indictment on his passing value.

He scrambles a lot, so he has some mobility, yet his sack rate is still high (9th scr%, 16th sk%) . That doesn’t really help his dropback efficiency much (31st ny/d).

He is not great at protecting the ball with the 12th highest turnover rate and he is very poor at producing first downs and TDs (27th to%, 32nd td%). So, it makes sense that his epa efficiency is poor (28th epa/d). That efficiency is exactly the same as what Trubisky put up in the first 4 weeks of the season (-0.08).


He is consistently below average in the numbers that matter and his trends aren’t pointing in the right direction.


Except for week 11, he has just been throwing it short.


Diontae Johnson has been his primary target, but he is getting more value from George Pickens.


His accuracy has been pretty good and that is a necessary attribute for a QB to have.


It is really the last 2 weeks (CIN, NO) that have been driving his time to throw.


He has spotty success on parts of the field, but overall, he has been bad.