We are more than a week removed from the 2022 NFL Draft, and the one pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers which excites me more than any other is pick No. 52, George Pickens out of Georgia. Pickens is an absolute beast and, in my opinion, would have been a 1st round pick had he not torn an ACL in 2021. He brings a massive amount of talent and promise to the Steelers wide receiving corps.
Pickens stands at 6’3”, 195 pounds and was born in Alabama, like previous Steelers legend receiver John Stallworth. With just his raw ability, Pickens has the potential to become the Steelers very own ‘DB Slayer’. Many suggest, and I’d agree, the Steelers got a steal getting Pickens in Round 2. Pickens provides excellent overall value, and given Kevin Colbert’s record of drafting top quality receivers there is every chance he could become an awesome pick up for the Steelers.
Now some have questioned Pickens’ attitude. Some have called him a trouble maker after his much publicized on-field fight in his freshman year against Georgia Tech, and his water bottle spraying antics against Tennessee. However, when you actually look into this guy he doesn’t seem to have a bad attitude. In an interview in his second year, after a fantastic individual performance, rather than speaking about himself, he praised his offensive line, his quarterback and coaches for helping him get to a position where he could perform as he just had. In addition, in 2021 after his non-contact ACL injury, rather than just concentrate on getting himself fully fit for the draft, Pickens battled back, and even though not 100%, played a part in Georgia’s run to the National Championship. To me, this does not seem like a player who has an attitude problem, Pickens seems like a team-first player with an edge, which is what you need to be in the NFL.
Of course Pickens has an aggressive nature to his play, but this aggression is what makes him what he is. A wide receiver who can win contested catches, someone who battles for extra yards, a receiver who fights to get in the end zone and someone who takes no nonsense from defensive backs. Pickens is in the perfect place to have this aggression channeled in the right way to make him one of the league’s Top 10 receivers. Mike Tomlin makes Pittsburgh a perfect spot for Pickens considering he is one of the best at motivating and focusing his players in the right way.
George Pickens’ stats are promising, to say the least. During his time in Georgia he averaged 14.8 yards per catch in 2019, 14.3 yards per catch in 2020 and 21.4 yards per catch in 2021, granted with only 5 receptions. Over his three years in college he racked up 1,347 yards and scored 14 touchdowns. Pickens played slot and outside receiver too, showing position flexibility which is something both Tomlin and Matt Canada truly value.
When you look at Pickens’ overall value, what is there not to like?
- Fast and strong
- Burst of speed which helps him overtake man-press coverage
- Creates great throwing windows with his suddenness at the break point
- Ability to high point the ball
- Win contested catches
- Elite catch radius
- Vice-like hands
- Physical when he blocks
Fans of the black and gold should be excited to see him making plays for the Steelers for years to come.
Pickens has all the skills necessary, if he can stay healthy and be used in the right way, to help turn the Pittsburgh offense into a dynamic one. With Chase Claypool, Najee Harris, Pat Freiermuth, Calvin Austin III and Diontae Johnson, he is a weapon either Kenny Pickett or Mitchell Trubisky will love to target early and often.
I firmly believe George Pickens has the skillset and attitude to be a WR1 in the league and should be a welcome addition to the Steelers’ offense for years to come.