To Mike Tomlin, George Pickens is the best of both worlds. Plays like a big man when he needs to. Plays like a little man when he needs to.
Appearing on The Rich Eisen Show Wednesday afternoon, Tomlin discussed what the Pittsburgh Steelers are getting in Pickens.
“You’re looking for distinguishing traits,” Tomlin told Eisen. “He’s a big guy, 6’3+, with little guy body control. His ability to change directions, his ability to stop and start, his ability to drop his weight is like that of a much smaller man. That was a trait that really attracted us to him. He’s a competitor. He’s got easy hand-eye and ball skills and obviously that’s a major component to the position as well.”
Pickens is a long and leaner body type. But his fluidity for that size and frame is what put him on the team’s radar. Had it not been for a torn ACL suffered in March of 2021 that knocked him out for most of the 2021 season, he almost certainly would’ve been a first-round pick. Pickens’ solid Pro Day workout sold the Steelers on him, and his fall to #52 presents real value for Pittsburgh, who have made Day 2 their home for drafting the position.
With the additions of Pickens and fourth-round receiver Calvin Austin III, the Steelers have replenished their free agency losses of JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, and Ray-Ray McCloud. Arguably, the Steelers’ receiver room looks better now, though Pickens and Austin will have to prove themselves before they’re anointed the “next great” anything.
For Pickens, he will have to prove he can make an immediate jump to the NFL. He is only 21, hardly played last season, and didn’t catch a ton of passes even when he was healthy in Georgia’s run-based offense, just 90 career receptions. It’s far less than past Steelers’ Day 2 picks.
College Receptions Of Steelers Day Two Wide Receivers 2017-2022
James Washington – 226
JuJu Smith-Schuster – 213
Chase Claypool – 150
Diontae Johnson – 135
George Pickens – 90
Pickens’ production compares more favorably to Martavis Bryant (61 receptions) and Sammie Coates (82 receptions), similarly dynamic and big-play threats. Bryant proved to be a legitimate talent, though off-field issues ended his career, while Coates’ hands earned him a quick NFL exit. Pickens is regarded as having great hands and if he can avoid immaturity pitfalls, he could be the Steelers’ next great receiver.
Check out the full conversation below.
"We just had a bird's-eye view of his growth and development, not only has a player but as a person, as a leader."
— Rich Eisen Show (@RichEisenShow) May 4, 2022