With training camp and the preseason now in full swing, we are finally beginning to piece together some concrete data to attempt to draw conclusions about the Pittsburgh Steelers and who they will be during the 2022 season.
With new quarterbacks, new coaches in new roles, even a new stadium name, there is plenty of change, creating an environment of even less predictability. That includes the new general manager, which could potentially introduce new variables we will have to learn to adjust to over the years when making our own projections of what decisions the team will make.
These sorts of uncertainties are what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
Topic Statement: George Pickens will be the Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Explanation: Hey, let’s jump on the hype train. The Steelers’ second-round draft pick has attracted nationwide sports media attention since the opening of training camp with his highlight-reel catches and the occasional hurdle over a defender. On Saturday night, he showed he can translate that into a stadium. He should be primed to be very productive as a rookie in a year without any obvious rookie starting quarterbacks, giving him a fair shot at winning the award.
A lot of places actually have Kenny Pickett as the favorite to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award. The only problem is he’s not going to be playing, at least not for a while. I’m not exactly an expert in this field, but I’m seeing Pickens’ odds at +2800, tied for 15th, and I might take that bet.
Yes, the Steelers have Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool at wide receiver, but Pickens is quickly becoming a go-to guy. We’ve heard all of the quarterbacks say it. He’s going to be the guy that they turn to when there isn’t actually anything open, because he can make the plays.
And he will make plays. He has the size to win with his body, and he also has shown the ability to play to that frame, something Claypool is inconsistent in doing. Johnson will get plenty of targets, but so will Pickens. Mitch Trubisky has thrown 500 passes in a season before. The ball will be in the air.
The Steelers don’t just have a pair of starting wide receivers standing in front of Pickens, they also have quality pass-catching tight ends and running backs. Najee Harris caught 74 passes last year, Pat Freiermuth 60, and their targets are only likely to go up, especially with Trubisky at quarterback, who’s more likely to take checkdowns.
And while there may not be any obvious favorite among rookie quarterbacks to start the season, there are some possibilities like Desmond Ridder and Malik Willis—even Pickett. And there are plenty of skill position players to consider here like Drake London, Breece Hall, Drake London, and Treylon Burks.
Realistically speaking, there are a number of rookies who have a good chance of being a greater focal point of their offense than Pickens will be required to be as a rookie, and because of that, he’s not going to put up the numbers needed. Even if he has the same kind of talent as Ja’Marr Chase—which is highly debatable—he doesn’t have Joe Burrow, either in terms of the talent or the inherited rapport.