Another Steelers steal: Why George Pickens looks like Pittsburgh’s next star pick after Round 1 – CBS Sports

Another Steelers steal: Why George Pickens looks like Pittsburgh's next star pick after Round 1 - CBS Sports

It is the long-term neglect of a specific, high-profile position in the first round of the draft vi doesn’t have heard about too much for the past three years. Of course, I refer to the Steelers and the fact that they haven’t selected a receiver in Round 1 since Santonio Holmes was selected in 2006 (the packersmore famously, hasn’t selected 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 team in football has created a more prestigious lineage of Day 2 and Day 3 picks at receiver over the past two decades. than the Steelers.

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

Pickens was comfortably a first-round wideout on mine Big Board before the 2022 draft. The only publications that received a higher grade were Drake London, Jameson Williams, Garrett Wilson, and Skyy Moore.

I know training camp videos are all the rage right now. But let’s get into what Pickens did in his unique career at Georgia that indicated he was ready to not only make the jump to the NFL, but arrive on the scene as a wideout with instant star skills.

Before I begin, let’s remember, Pickens was a five-star recruit and the No. 4 wideout in the nation entering the collegiate ranks of the high school class of 2019. Pickens was that guy for a while.

Let’s start with a touchdown against fellow second-round pick Roger McCreary, now of the Titans, then from Auburn University. Notice how assertive Pickens breaks down McCreary at the line, then how effortlessly he accelerates and finds the football outside and over his shoulder.

That play is receiver instructional tape, and Pickens made that play as a 19-year-old, mind you. To move that fluidly and explosively at his 6-foot-3 is rare.

On the vertical route tree, Pickens is a scary matchup. Not simply because he is tall and fast and entered college with the advanced ability to combat press reporting. His catch radius is enormous. Bigger than you think.

Takes of the ridiculous outstretched-arm variety are strewn throughout Pickens’ film. From his freshman season on. That one, in a very competitive bowl game, made a mark on me. From a potential standpoint, based on his frame and athleticism alone, Pickens is a weapon.

Why I knocked a first-round grade on him before the draft, he pairs that five-star recruit caliber athletic profile with nuanced receiver ability. Like check out how he mixes both elements of playing the position on this touchdown against Arkansas. Return from the perimeter, catches the football then bends incredibly then dives for the score.

Or how about this comeback against Cincinnati? It showed a lot of Pickens’ next-level skill. Same route as the score against Arkansas, subtle juke at the line, serious rush to push the corner upfield, then he snapped off the top of the route just as he moved into the defender’s blind spot to secure himself separation .

The cherry on top was how he adjusted to the slightly low and outside throw and looked it into his hands to make the catch. Stellar stuff from Pickens.

In that score against LSU and eventual No. 3 overall pick Derek Stingley, Pickens faked toward the sideline, erupted to the inside and, again, adjusted to an off-target throw to ensure the football was thrown well outside his numbers. Oh, and this play, was one of Pickens’ eight touchdowns as an 18-year-old (!) in 2019 for the Bulldogs.

Look at that again. Notice how Pickens kept his eyes on the quarterback the entire time. Sure, Stingley had outside leverage, which allowed Pickens to sneak inside. But the suddenness shown by Pickens was special.

As the 11th receiver drafted with the No. 52 overall selection in April, Pickens was a huge steal. Based on the Steelers’ track record of selecting wideouts, we should have known that as soon as his name was called when they clocked in Round 2.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.