Article Title: Pickett a name among uncertainty
Growing up on the rodeo circuit with his father as a child Cody Pickett knows what it takes to be a champion much like his father was when his father was named in 1984 as the World Champion Cowboy. Caldwell High and University of Washington senior Cody Pickett was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the seventh with the 217th pick in the 2004 NFL Draft.
Pickett chose Washington as his university of choice after an outstanding high school career in which he stood tall as a four-sport athlete, where he started in football, basketball, golf and the rodeo. He kind of followed in the footsteps of his dad who not only had a high profile reputation with the rodeo circuit, but was also a star quarterback at Boise State.
Although Cody has never admitted as to being under any pressure to follow in his father’s footsteps but the fact of the matter is he was always around his father throughout his professional career. Throughout high school Cody idolized his father and plotted a course in his own career to propel him into the limelight as well.
Cody Pickett actually competed and qualified for the high school national rodeo finals his sophomore through senior years, where he practiced in team roping and calf roping, the same events as his father, who by the way was inducted into the Professional Rodeo Hall of Fame in August of 2003.
“I was swinging a rope since I could walk, and I was playing pee-wee football since fourth grade,” said Pickett. Pickett says though there is little physically in common between roping and throwing, both are competitive and take a lot of time, practice and dedication like any other sport.
Cody Pickett took his competitiveness and applied it at the University of Washington where he carved out a stellar career there all except for the final year of his stay as a senior. His stock fell after his senior season soon after a junior season where he made his greatest impact by setting school records with 4,458-yards passing as a junior. He broke Pac-10 Conference records as well and seriously contemplated entering the draft in 2003 as an underclassman but opted to help his team instead.
He was rated as a top Heisman Trophy candidate and even considered a potential first round draft pick. Cody Pickett is all about putting his team first and hopefully he’ll carry that over into his professional career as a 49er. He is a quarterback that surprisingly fell through the cracks in this year’s draft and the 49ers are better from drafting him instead of someone else.
“I gave serious thought to coming out as a junior,” Pickett said. “But I thought the best thing to do would be to come back and try to help my team be successful last year. Unfortunately, we didn’t do that.”
Pickett played through a painful rib injury in his final year with the Huskies and competed at a weight of 225-pounds, standing 6-feet, 4-inches tall. But since then he’s added 10-pounds of muscle and focused again on his professional career. His numbers as a passer fell last year and so did his stock in the draft. Still, he was rated by many as a possible first-day pick. Falling all the way to the seventh round was a shock to Pickett and his family and friends.
“I feel I was one of the top (quarterbacks), but I wasn’t drafted that way,” Pickett said. “The (49ers) got a really good bargain. I got a good bargain, too, and I am excited to be there.”
Pickett was one of 17 quarterbacks drafted in the 2004 NFL Draft and one of six taken in the last round of this draft. The San Francisco 49ers coveted Pickett right from the beginning but had other areas of need first selecting him with just 38 picks remaining in the draft on the final day. Other teams showed some interest in him and he was in contact with them such as the Green Bay Packers, Cleveland Browns and St. Louis Rams.
Cody Pickett spent the entire day on draft day at a friend’s house watching the draft on ESPN. He found out that the San Francisco 49ers were taking him about five minutes before it was read on television.
Cody Pickett displays tremendous talent as an overall athlete and is probably one of the most gifted quarterbacks that came out of this draft despite his falling stock due to the numbers he put up in 2003 with playing hurt throughout the season at the University of Washington. What is even more encouraging is that he’s excited to join a team that is rich in quarterback history and has an outstanding track record in turning out high profile quarterbacks.
“It’s really nice,” he said. “I spent four months not knowing where I was going to be. I like the area and like the coaching staff. It’s going to be a great fit for me.” Pickett gores in as the third quarterback behind Tim Rattay and second-year backup Ken Dorsey from the University of Miami. Head Coach Dennis Erickson had a lot to do with acquiring Cody Pickett after competing against him on the collegiate level and being able to evaluate what he can and can’t do.
Erickson coached at Oregon State University and went up against Pickett’s Huskies before leaving to coach in the NFL last season. Pickett became the first quarterback in the Pac-10’s Conference’s history to throw for more than 4,000-yards. Pickett still to this day doesn’t regret not opting to jump ship right after his career-high junior season to declare eligibility for the NFL draft.
“I wanted to go back and help my team out as much as possible,” he said. “I might have been a first-day guy if I would have come out last year, but I can’t dwell on the past. I wasn’t successful as I should have been, but it’s history now. It happened for a reason and I’m playing for a team I want to be with. Plus, I’m bigger and stronger than I was last year.”
Many NFL scouts saw Cody Pickett’s stock fall because of his disappointing performance at the scouting combine. Pro Football Weekly’s well-regarded draft guide noted Pickett’s “bad habit of throwing off his back foot and an awkward wrist cock prior to throwing the ball. Balls will flutter and sail on him. Struggled with accuracy and lacked arm strength at the combine.”
Regardless of this assessment head coach Dennis Erickson disputes this claim as unfounded because of Pickett’s torn pectoral muscle that he suffered in his senior season. Erickson saw him at a workout in Washington prior to the draft and said he was as impressive as ever. “Two years ago, he was the best quarterback in the Pac-10,” Erickson said.
Cody Pickett will compete against another very promising quarterback for the third slot on the San Francisco quarterback roster, in former Brigham Young University’s Brandon Doman, who was drafted by the 49ers in the fifth round of the 2002 NFL Draft. Doman is best known as “The Dominator” of Brigham Young University’s 2001 football season.
What many don’t know about Brandon Doman is that he started out in very rough shape in that he sat more then he played in that he experimented at playing receiver and defensive back. He basically played without many repetitions or a red shirt season, so any sort of progression was unrecognized.
Then in some kind of lightening bolt from above Brandon Doman turned his career around in just a matter of a short few months. He led his Cougars to a 12-0 start in 2001, quarterbacking one of college football’s all-time explosive offenses. His offense averaged 46.8 points a game, 7.1-yards per play, 542.8-yards per game and 7,057-yards of total offense.
Last year in mini-camps and training camp held in at the Santa Clara headquarters of the San Francisco 49ers, Brandon Doman was cut after a very tight battle against University of Miami star stud Ken Dorsey. Both battled each other for the third quarterback position behind then backup Tim Rattay and last year starter Jeff Garcia. The 49er organization reluctantly cut the talented Doman when the Buffalo Bills then claimed him.
He landed on the Buffalo Bills practice squad. “When I got there it was 7 degrees in September,” he said. He then ended his 2003 season on the Washington Redskins practice squad, where he thought he’d be returning again this season. But in January, the 49ers called and signed him back to a contract through 2006.
The deal is much better then it was for Doman when he was first drafted by the 49ers, but as all of you already know nothing is guaranteed in the NFL. Soon after starting quarterback Tim Rattay tore his groin in the first 49er mini-camp both Brandon Doman and Ken Dorsey split the reps 50-50 in all summer camps.
One of the things that come to mind about Brandon Doman is the phone call he received from retired 49er quarterback Steve Young in his senior year after he took a lot of hits and hurt his shoulder against Colorado State.
Young actually called and told Doman all his running got him jacked, which reminded him of himself. “But, Brandon,” Young said, “You’ve got to extend your career, you’ve got to get down, get out of bounds and reduce the hits you are taking. Michael Vick can’t take hits all the time. Nobody can. You just can’t do that.”
The very fact that the San Francisco 49ers did not sign a veteran quarterback right after Tim Rattay suffered a major injury that may impair his starting this season compels Brandon Doman and Cody Pickett to have hope they will land a position on the 49er roster.
In part because the 49ers are showing tremendous courage in going with youth and hoping that each quarterback on the roster will define themselves through mini-camps and training camp this year, and in part define their position on the roster.
“I just thank the 49ers for giving us a chance and believing in their young guys,” Doman said. It gives us confidence. And I think that, between all of us quarterbacks, we’ll get it done.”
Some still wonder why the San Francisco 49ers drafted a quarterback to begin with? And the answer is really straightforward and simple. You never can have enough quarterbacks developing for in a league that is built on speed and built to win, the tenacity of the game is bound to leave someone injured or impaired. Jeff Garcia’s injuries were prime examples of how the league is, and in hindsight helped develop Tim Rattay for a starting role that he begins this season.
General Manager Terry Donahue explained that he took another quarterback in part because of new rules that expand the practice squad from six players to eight. “It gives you a chance to red-shirt a guy, so to speak,” Donahue said. “I believe that in any organization, you have to be always developing a quarterback.”
What will be the training camp battle at this quarterback position will pitch Cody Pickett against Brandon Doman. Both will fight to stay in the third slot and part of the main 53-man roster come final cuts in late August. The one expelled will most likely join the eight-man practice squad and continue to develop there for next season or be claimed by another team.
In Review: University of Washington’s Cody Pickett
Cody Pickett has a distinct height advantage at 6-3 and weighs 227-pounds. He also ran the 40 in 4.72 and has been compared to NFL quarterback Jay Fiedler.
Strengths: He has very quick feet and sets up rather quickly. He has the ability to buy time while in the pocket. Has great preparation techniques and studies lots of film and has a good feel for reading defenses. Can become a red-hot quarterback with the ability to pick apart a defense in the short and intermediate zones.
Weaknesses: Can at times be overaggressive. Can panic and force a throw and believes his arm is stronger than it actually is at times. Will struggle to get good zip on a deep out route but will make most NFL throws.
Overall: He’ll need excellent coaching to begin his mentoring in becoming a leader out on the field. He has the ability to regain his confidence over last year and become more consistent. He is a risk but a risk worth taking if he should have the right coaching.
Although his best years were back in 2001-02, Cody Pickett was a no-brainer in drafting him. I cannot imagine him failing at this juncture in his career. He’ll have a very hard task at unseating Brandon Doman this season through training camp and in pre-season.
But at the very least management seems very interested in keeping him around for as long as they can, even if that means a spot for him on the practice squad. I look forward to the challenges we’ll all see him endure and I hope that we are all pleasantly surprised.