INDIANAPOLIS — Kenny Pickett’s journey from New Jersey to Pittsburgh to where he now is has been a winding road. However, before he was committed to Pat Narduzzi and Pitt, Pickett had a special connection with Matt Rhule and the Temple Owls. That was where Pickett was first slated to play collegiate football. The relationship he cultivated with Rhule during that recruiting period is not something he takes lightly.
In fact, a lot of signs point to Pickett and the Panthers being a natural fit for one another. With the obvious need for a quarterback and Rhule’s appetite for athletic quarterbacks that can create out of structure, Pickett makes sense. They met again at the NFL Combine, and for the pair, it was just like old times.
“It was cool seeing him,” Pickett said. “I haven’t seen him in a long time. It was all smiles when we first saw each other walking into the room. We kind of picked up where we left off in 2016 when he was at Temple and I was originally committed there. Great guy. It was awesome to reconnect.”
The Sam Darnold trade and Cam Newton signing did not go as planned for Carolina. The fallout from it left the Panthers a barren quarterback landscape. Pickett seems to be the natural connection to the Panthers. With their search heating up throughout the draft season, general manager Scott Fitterer knows the Panthers have to address the quarterback position.
“We need stability at the quarterback position, whether that is Sam or somebody else,” Fitterer said. “Somebody needs to take hold of that position and own that. Right now, it’s open. If Sam does it, that’d be great. But it’s open… I think it’s great to have stars. And these elite quarterbacks, they’re fun to watch. But I think there are ways you can go about if you don’t have one, compensating for that. It is harder. Everyone wants that No. 1 guy. I’d love to have that, but we’ll see where that goes.”
Pickett’s ceiling can be drawn into question. However, he has a legitimately high floor that can bring stability to the quarterback position. If Fitterer is to be believed, that makes a Pickett and Rhule reunion very possible in Charlotte. The Panthers will have to decide if they value him as a top-10 pick, but Pickett can certainly take the job in that situation.