Kenny Pickett is the kind of success story in college football that has existed for decades but has become increasingly rare in recent years. He's a quarterback who showed up to campus without a lot of hype and didn't light the world on fire despite getting a chance to play early. But he kept playing, kept improving, and in 2021 it all came together. Pickett led Pitt to an ACC title, was named a Heisman finalist and ended up as the only QB selected in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.

It's a story that's been compared to what we saw with Joe Burrow, and while the similarities are there, some key differences also exist. First, Pickett was a three-star recruit and considered the 738th-best player in the 2017 recruiting class, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. Burrow was a four-star and ranked as the No. 280 player in the 2015 class. Second, while Pickett played a little as a freshman in 2017, he was Pitt's starter for his sophomore season. Burrow didn't have a clear path to playing time at Ohio State and transferred to LSU, where he had an average season in 2018 before blowing up in 2019.

Burrow had only thrown 418 college passes before his senior season; Pickett entered the 2021 season with 1,177 pass attempts under his belt. Generally, you are who you are at that point, but Pickett took a giant step forward long past the point expected of him. It's a success story that has caused many fanbases around the country to take a look at their QB depth chart and wonder if the next Kenny Pickett might be on their team.

Odds are, he isn't. These days, the quarterbacks who end up as Heisman finalists or first-round picks show up on campus that way. They're five-star or four-star recruits who have been groomed for the moment since childhood. But that QB might be out there, and I have scoured the countryside to find him. The qualifications were easy enough. I wanted to find a veteran QB with plenty of game experience who has been just slightly above average during his career — what we on The Cover 3 Podcast refer to as a JAG+ — so a breakout would seemingly "come from nowhere." Also, I wanted to avoid players who were highly rated recruits out of high school. Not necessarily three-stars only, but no five-stars or high four-stars. What I ended up with are these five quarterbacks.