Stealing Another Steelers: Why George Pickens Looks Like The Next Star Picked By Pittsburgh After Round 1

It’s the long-term neglect of a specific, high-profile position in the first round of the draft you have not heard a lot about it in the past three years. I’m referring, of course, to the Steelers and the fact that they haven’t picked a round 1 receiver since Santonio Holmes was selected in 2006 (the Packers, more famously, haven’t picked a first round receiver since 2002).

But, from Mike Wallace to Emmanuel Sanders to Antonio Brown to Martavis Bryant to JuJu Smith-Schuster to Diontae Johnson to Chase Claypool, no football team in the last two decades has had a more prestigious array of Day 2 and Day 3 picks at the receiver. created. than the Steelers.

And it feels like Pittsburgh has discovered the next overlooked wideout in George Pickens, their second-round roster in April. He’s taken Steelers training camp by storm, and our very own Bryan Deardo recently documented Pickens’ dominance at St. Vincent College this summer.

Pickens was comfortable a first lap wideout on my Big Board Before 2022 Design. The only wideouts to get higher marks were Drake London, Jameson Williams, Garrett Wilson and Skyy Moore.

I know training camp videos are all the rage right now. But let’s take a look at what Pickens did in his unique career with Georgia, which showed that he was not only ready to make the jump to the NFL, but also emerged on the scene as a widespread player with instant star abilities.

Before I begin, let’s not forget, Pickens was a five-star recruit and the No. 4 nationwide to enter the collegiate ranks of the 2019 high school class. Pickens is that guy for a while.

Let’s start with a second round touchdown against Roger McCreary, now from the Titans, then from Auburn University. Notice how assertively Pickens destroys McCreary on the leash and then how effortlessly he accelerated and found the football over his shoulder.

That piece is a receiving leather band, and Pickens made that piece as a 19-year-old, mind you. Moving that fluid and explosive on his 6-foot-3 is rare.

On the vertical route tree, Pickens is a scary matchup. Not just because he’s tall and fast and went to college with the cutting edge ability to counter press coverage. Its catch radius is huge. Bigger than you think.

Grippers of the ridiculous extended-arm variant are littered throughout Pickens’ film. From its first season. Which, in a very competitive bowling game, impressed me. From a potential standpoint, based on his frame and athleticism alone, Pickens is a weapon.

Why I gave him a first round for draft is he pairs that five-star recruit-caliber athletic profile with nuanced receiver skill. For example, watch him combine both elements of playing position on this touchdown against Arkansas. Come back from the perimeter, catch the football and then bend unbelievably and then dive for the score.

Or how about this comeback route against Cincinnati? It showed a lot of Picken’s next-level skills. Same route as the score against Arkansas, subtle juke on the line, serious acceleration to push the corner into the field, then broke off the top of the route just as he moved into the defender’s blind spot to assure himself of separation .

The icing on the cake was how he adapted to the somewhat low and outer throw and looked into his hands to make the grab. Stellar stuff from Pickens.

On this score against LSU and eventual No. 3 overall pick Derek Stingley, Pickens faked to the sidelines, burst in and again adjusted to an off-target toss to secure the football thrown way beyond its numbers. Oh, and this piece was one of Pickens’ eight touchdowns as an 18-year-old (!) in 2019 for the Bulldogs.

Look at that again. Notice how Pickens kept an eye on the quarterback the whole time. Of course, Stingley had outside influence, which allowed Pickens to sneak in. But the suddenness Pickens showed there was special.

When the 11th recipient made the number 52 roster in April, Pickens was a huge bargain. Based on Steelers track record picking wideouts, we should have realized this right away when his name was called as they went on the clock on lap 2.

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