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USATSI

No one has ascended like Joe Burrow. No one. But Kenny Pickett is on a Burrowian track. 

The Pittsburgh quarterback won't land as the No. 1 overall pick like Burrow did in 2020. But when viewed through the proper lens, Pickett is having a season similar to Burrow's masterful 2019 and has positioned himself to ascend draft boards over the next few months after minimal -- if any -- draft hype before his final collegiate campaign.

And, get this -- Pickett gives me serious Burrow vibes on film. Burrow was an older prospect who turned 24 in December of his rookie year in the NFL. Pickett turns 24 in June. 

Parallels galore! 

From a classic statistical perspective, here's how the two stack up through six games in their final college seasons: 


Completion RateYards Per AttemptTDINTRushing TD

Joe Burrow, 2019

79.6%

11.5

25

3

2

Kenny Pickett, 202169.8%9.42113

As you can see, Pickett hasn't exactly been Burrow. And it shows on film. He's not quite as sharp as Burrow was in that essentially flawless 2019. Let's call Pickett "Burrow Lite." 

We can't forget, though -- Burrow was throwing to future top 5 pick Ja'Marr Chase, budding NFL superstar Justin Jefferson, 2021 second-round pick Terrace Marshall Jr and 2020 first-round running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire.

Pittsburgh sophomore receiver Jordan Addison is a future NFL player; maybe he lands in the first round whenever he declares. But Burrow was throwing to an NFL skill-position group. Pickett is not. 

And Pickett hasn't been a low-volume passer who just happens to have tossed a plethora of touchdowns with only one interception. He has three 380-plus-yard outings including a 403-yard, five-touchdown, zero-pick performance against New Hampshire at the end of the September. 

Now, back to the stylistic comparisons. Tell me this play from Pickett against Virginia Tech doesn't look identical to Burrow in the SEC two years ago. 

Or how about this delicate drift in the pocket and bucket throw down the field against Western Michigan? 

It's very similar, and not just because Burrow donned a yellow helmet in college, too. Come on, I'm better than that, guys. 

As for the deceptive improvisational brilliance integral in Burrow's rise from Day 3 project to the most beloved prospect in the 2020 draft? Yeah, Pickett has shown that, too, many times through six games. 

Check the speed at which he eludes the inside rusher, immediately becomes a ball carrier and moves the chains. 

Like Burrow, Pickett has a slightly above-average arm -- not a howitzer -- loves stretching the field vertically and has a keen ad-libbing sense when things break down. He's been wildly productive in his final college season. 

Plus, Pickett is considerably more experienced. Burrow threw 945 passes combined at Ohio State and LSU. Pickett is already at 1,382 attempts at Pittsburgh.

Crazier things have happened, but Pickett is unlikely to even land in the top 10 of the 2022 NFL Draft. Still, the Burrow-esque prospect is having a Burrow-esque experience in his senior campaign with the Panthers that he'll parlay into a Burrow-esque ascent during the pre-draft process -- all the way into the first round.