With the 20th pick in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft the Steelers selected George Pickens from the University of Georgia Bulldogs.
Here’s what was being said about Pickens before the draft.
Drae Harris for The Draft Network
He is sudden off the line of scrimmage and quickly closes the DB’s cushion. He is fluid and shows good body control as a route-runner, easily attacking leverage against man coverage. He has a very good catch radius and shows tremendous athleticism to contort his body and make difficult catches on off-target throws.
Will need to add mass, bulk, and upper-body strength to his wiry frame in order to play through physicality in the NFL.
Because he is lean and there have been injury concerns in his past, this could affect the projection to the next level.
Ultimately, he has redeeming value in his athleticism, agility, and catch radius.
Third round value.
NFL Draft Buzz
Before his injury, was the NFL Draft’s most physically gifted receiver.
Very good athlete with excellent length, impressive hands and catch radius.
Able to track the ball over his shoulder.
Natural pass-catcher with reliable hands and very good focus.
Amazing red zone target can jump and make contested catches.
Never looked explosive off the line of scrimmage.
Only put up 1285 yards in three years in college.
ACL injury and the extent it hurt his value — is undetermined.
Has a number of off-the-field issues, has been suspended and ejected. . . called undisciplined by his own head coach.
Pickens could easily be the biggest boom-bust prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft class. He has quite possibly some of the most natural receiving talent in the draft and has shown dominating Calvin Johnston-like skills before his injury.
He, however, is still recovering from an ACL injury. Pickens also has displayed some behavior red flags that need to be thoroughly investigated before teams consider spending a high pick on him.
Mike Williams for Bleacher Report
Pickens is a long outside wide receiver with good size and play strength. He plays with a competitive streak that shows up when he is attacking the ball in the air and in the run game as a blocker.
Pickens’ hand-eye coordination and balance show up when he’s tracking deep throws and on contested catches. He is a natural catcher of the football and can consistently contort his body and haul in throws at all angles.
He can get stuck or stumble at times when breaking. He’ll need continued refinement with his route-running details.
Pickens can be a bit lackadaisical with his tempo coming off the ball, but he has enough long speed to threaten defenders vertically.
NFL teams will have to assess his medical history to see if Pickens recovers to his 2020 ability and athleticism. If he’s fully healthy and continues to add details to his route running, he will be a useful option for NFL offenses with some room to grow into a more featured role.
Natalie Miller for NFL Draft Wire
Pickens is one of the best receivers in a deep class, especially when it comes to tracking and adjusting his body to the football and going to get it. He uses top-tier body control, length, and hand strength to adjust to deep balls at any angle, and almost always comes down with the catch.
Pickens will need to work on beating press man on bigger corners at the next level, where slapping them away did not quite work for him in college. He’ll have to develop a Plan B to not get bullied in those situations, and work on improving his overall play strength.
Pickens has the ability to be a No. 1 receiver in the NFL, as his athleticism and body control are truly next-level stuff. Questions will linger about his injury and inconsistent play strength, but if he overcomes these issues, he will end up being a dominant pass-catcher at the next level.
Everyone agrees that Pickens is fantastic adjusting to the ball in the air and winning contested catches. He is touted as physical, but also as a player that doesn’t have the bulk to be that player in the NFL. He plays physically but doesn’t always get good results from his physicality.
But the bottom line for Pickens is if he can get off the line and catch the ball downfield he will be an impact player in the NFL, because the deep passing game matters just as much now as it always has, and that is his strength.