I’m talking about George Pickens, the Georgia wideout with fast feet and maybe even faster hands if you ask that one defensive back from Georgia Tech.
Anyway, as has become a round-two custom, there was a receiver left on the board who everyone wanted the Steelers to select with the 52nd pick on Friday night—Western Michigan’s Skyy Moore, who hails from Pittsburgh and played his high school ball with Mike Tomlin’s son—but, instead, Pittsburgh took Pickens in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Not a bad pick, considering Pickens more than held his own in the pre-draft rankings with a crop of receivers that was considered to be extremely deep.
In fact, had Pickens not suffered a torn ACL last spring during a non-contact drill, he may have had a junior season monstrous enough to put him in serious first-round contention.
As it stands, Pickens worked his way back in time to appear in four games for the Bulldogs a season ago. And while he didn’t factor heavily into Georgia’s National Championship season—Pickens caught five passes for 107 yards—you have to like his determination to recover so quickly after suffering such a serious injury.
Judging by the 40 time Pickens recorded at the Combine—4.47—it doesn't look like speed is going to be a major concern for him at the professional level after the injury.
How about production? This is where it gets a bit tricky. Pickens had a combined 85 catches for 1240 yards over his first two seasons at Georgia. Not bad, but not prolific, either. Probably a bit unfair to point that out, however, since we’ll never know how much Pickens would have produced for a great and extremely talented Georgia team had he been fully healthy in 2021.
As for those fast hands, they came to light late in the 2019 campaign when Pickens got into a fistfight with Georgia Tech defensive back Tre Swilling. Pickens was ejected from the game against the Bulldogs’ fierce rival and then suspended for the first half of the following game versus LSU.
Pickens was also suspended for violating team rules early in his collegiate career. Major concerns? I’d say they’re not. These things happen—especially fistfights in games against fierce rivals.
All I know for sure is that the selection of Pickens addresses a major need for the Steelers, one that became quite apparent after JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington and Ray-Ray McCloud all bolted for more money in free agency.
Drafting receivers seemed to be a luxury for the Steelers in past seasons—just adding more riches to riches—but now it’s paramount that Pittsburgh rebuilds its receivers' room as quickly as possible.
Maybe George Pickens can help with that. If he was so determined to come back so quickly from a torn ACL while still in college, perhaps the skyy (see what I did there?) is the limit for what he can do at the professional level.