Entering the 2022 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers had a number of draft needs they needed to address. Unlike in 2021, where the decreased salary cap caused the team to lean on their rookies early, the Steelers possessed a full allotment of draft picks without any glaring needs on their roster.
With seven total picks, the following positions could be viewed as a priority entering the selection process: quarterback, safety, offensive tackle, pass rusher, wide receiver and even inside linebacker. Those positions, and more, were positions of need to help the black-and-gold get to the next level in 2022. There have been numerous thoughts and debates regarding what the team will do in Round 1 of the NFL Draft.
Friday night the Steelers selected Kenny Pickett with the 20th overall pick out of the University of Pittsburgh, so the need at quarterback was off the board.
On Day 2, when the dust settled, the Steelers selected University of Georgia wide receiver George Pickens, with their second pick in the draft.
Steelers take George Pickens— Michael Silver (@MikeSilver) April 30, 2022
The move puts Pickens, who is coming off a national championship season with the Georgia Bulldogs, will be a welcome addition to the Steelers’ wide receiving corps who lost JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington and Ray-Ray McCloud in free agency.
For those who want to know more about Pickens, here is what the BTSC Big Board had on the former Bulldog:
Ryland B.: Pickens is a big, tall, and lanky receiver who the Steelers have shown some pre-draft interest in. He’s not the shiftiest guy in this class, but he’s a solid route runner with great long speed, making him a physical deep threat down the field. Pickens has natural hands, a wide catch radius, and great ball-tracking ability. Pickens has a nasty competitive streak as well. His biggest concern was an ACL injury, but Pickens was able to compete in the combine and ran an impressive 4.4 40-yard dash which quelled some of the concerns. He’s currently projected as a second-round pick, but Pickens has the potential to be an excellent boundary receiver.
For a scouting report on Pickens, here is an in-depth analysis per NFL.com:
Lanky perimeter wideout with exciting ball skills but in desperate need of additional play strength and a clean bill of health. Resilient to make it back so quickly after an ACL tear, but needs to show quick-cutting ability for route-running. Pickens possesses borderline elite ball skills with in-air adjustments, strong hands and an enormous catch radius. However, he fails to put defenders on his hip and command the catch space to make his work less cluttered. The routes need more polish and physicality but he has the athletic ability to become a viable target on all three levels as a likely Day 2 draft pick with a little wider gap between ceiling and floor than NFL teams might like.
- Battled back from spring ACL tear to play late in the 2021 season.
- Off-hand and burst help defeat and overtake press.
- Makes quick stop-and-turn on drive routes.
- Creates throwing windows with suddenness at break points.
- Feel for leveraging coverage away from the stem.
- Plays with an appetite for the end zone.
- Displays good focus in catching in a crowd.
- Catches with sudden hands and elite catch radius.
- Rises, extends and snatches throws way outside the frame.
- Vice-grip hand strength rarely lets him down.
- Wiry frame lacks desired play strength.
- Effectiveness can be diminished by physical press.
- Must begin to fight back against route bullies.
- Slight hitch getting in and out of stems.
- Leaves coverage unstacked when he gets the early advantage.
- Needs to learn to carve out and protect his catch space.
- Allows trespassers to tilt 50/50 balls in their favor.
- Has missed time due to injury, including the 2021 ACL tear.
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