The 2023 NFL preseason is officially here, which means there are plenty of bold takes to go around. Former Pittsburgh Steeler turned NFL commentator for ESPN, Ryan Clark, went bolder than bold on NFL Live Wednesday, stating that second-year WR George Pickens is “much more talented” than Vikings All-Pro receiver Justin Jefferson.
Watching the clip, the take is a bit more nuanced than you’d guess at face value. Clark’s speaking to Pickens’ untapped potential, which there is undoubtedly plenty of, particularly considering Pickens’ potential trajectory to be the WR1 in his draft class prior to a torn ACL in the spring ahead of the 2021 season.
Still, it’s a bold statement in any sense. Pickens has been massively impressive when it comes to his hands in particular — a connoisseur of contested catches, tied for the third most in the league (19) as a rookie... only behind Seahawks’ D.K. Metcalf (20), and — you guessed it — Justin Jefferson (22). He’s still got a lot of work to do, however, in terms of diversifying his route tree and creating separation so he doesn’t need to make those contested catches in the first place.
Jefferson led the NFL in 2022 with 128 receptions and 1,809 receiving yards (6th most by any WR in a single season, all-time), averaging 96.5 receiving yards per game across his three-year career — the most of any wide receiver in NFL history.
That being said, if Pickens is actually more talented than Jefferson and HC Mike Tomlin is there to coach it out of him, the ceiling for him could be quite high... so long as Matt Canada doesn’t mess it up along the way.
Watch Ryan Clark on George Pickens, Justin Jefferson
Generally speaking, NFL media has been quite high on the Pittsburgh Steelers, but especially so when it comes to Pickens’ potential heading into Year 2.
But is it going too far?