NFL Draft: 5 general managers to be on hand for North Carolina vs Pitt

Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback Kenny Pickett (8). Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback Kenny Pickett (8). Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

There are big implications on the upcoming North Carolina vs Pitt game, and several general managers will be on hand to scout top NFL Draft prospects.

There is a huge college football game on Thursday night. While North Carolina vs Pittsburgh might just seem like a matchup between two quality ACC teams, NFL scouts and executives will be on hand as both of these teams are led by future starting NFL quarterbacks.

We got a great look at quarterbacks Matt Corral and Malik Willis as Ole Miss and Liberty faced off against each other last week. Now we will get the chance to see Sam Howell and Kenny Pickett go toe-to-toe — a battle that could prove to have lasting results into the 2022 NFL Draft.

This is a highly-anticipated matchup for this reason. Johnny McGonigal of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently reported that five general managers will be on hand to scout players from the North Carolina vs Pitt game on Thursday night. These include Steelers GM Kevin Colbert, Eagles GM Howie Roseman, Raiders GM Mike Mayock, Vikings GM Rick Spielman, and Broncos GM George Paton:

While there are other draft-eligible players on both teams, we know why these NFL executives are showing up to this game: to scout the quarterback talent at the top of the 2022 NFL Draft. The performances of Pickett and Howell in this contest could dictate just how high each signal-caller will be selected.

Why these teams could take a QB in the NFL Draft?

General managers are showing up for this contest because their teams are in need of a franchise quarterback. While most are just doing their homework, two NFL teams (possibly from the names mentioned above) will be drafting Sam Howell and Kenny Pickett high in April.

The Steelers currently have a 39-year-old quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger who is highly unlikely to return following the 2021 season. Pittsburgh loves big-armed passers, and Howell fits the bill, but perhaps they could be even more drawn to the local product in Pickett — a QB who meets almost all of the thresholds they look for at the position.

The Eagles likely aren’t sold on Jalen Hurts, and with the most first-round capital in the upcoming NFL Draft, they have enough firepower to get any quarterback they want. Likewise, Teddy Bridgewater is only a stop-gap passer in Denver, and the Broncos could use a new quarterback.

Meanwhile, the Raiders have a good quarterback in Derek Carr, but Las Vegas could potentially deal him next offseason if they are able to land a player like Aaron Rodgers, and the Vikings have been riding the fence with Kirk Cousin for some time now.

Howell and Pickett are both respectable prospects with pretty good tools to work with. Howell is younger with more arm strength and mobility but hasn’t shown the progression we had hoped to see since his freshman season.

Pickett, on the other hand, had four subpar seasons before exploding in year five for the Pitt Panthers. He’s arguably the fastest-rising prospect in the NFL Draft.

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If you are a fan of college football and the NFL Draft, then North Carolina vs Pitt on Thursday night is some must-watch content. These two quarterbacks could be among the top passers selected in April’s draft. With just a few collegiate games remaining for each of these two players, their performance this week could help or hurt their draft stock.