In Kevin Colbert’s 22 years at the head of the table as General Manager for the Steelers, some big-time wide receiving talents have came through the door. In fact, the Steelers are viewed by virtually the entire league as the benchmark when it comes to finding wide receiver talent in the draft, be it an early-round choice like Plaxico Burress or a sixth-rounder like multi-time All-Pro Antonio Brown. Even the Pro Bowl talent they have now in their leading receiver from a season ago, Diontae Johnson, was a third-round pick from Toledo in the MAC Conference.
It seems the team might have another draft diamond on their hands, in the form of second round pick George Pickens, hailing from the national champion Georgia Bulldogs. In a segment moments ago on NFL Network’s Inside Training Camp, the five-man panel was in absolute awe at some of the playmaking Pickens has been putting on display in camp thus far.
“The one-on-one period he was just showing and displaying the in-air, body control, ball skills and hands that are sort of rare for a receiver,” NFL Network Analyst Marc Ross said, according to video via NFL.com. “And he is talking a lot of noise doing it too, he’s making plays and talking to the entire defense that’s saying ‘you can’t stop me’. He does have to get better at the route running, some consistencies the coaching staff is saying, but when you just talk about a talented guy who has playmaking ability, it was on full display today.”
At 6-foot-3 and and 195 pounds, Pickens’ career numbers at Georgia are impressive, with 90 grabs for 1,347 yards and 14 touchdowns. Factored into this is the COVID-shortened season of 2020 and also the fact that Pickens tore his ACL in spring practice in 2021 and missed most of the entire season. However, he did leave his mark in the National Championship Game, smoking an impressive Alabama secondary for a 52-yard gain.
He’s been routinely making circus catches in training camp thus far, and should see a fair share of snaps in this Saturday’s preseason opener versus the Seahawks. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport ended the segment saying one thing about Pickens that was never a question at all was his sheer talent, which it appears the sky is clearly the limit.
“It’s just, can you manage all of the other stuff?” Rapoport said on NFL Network, according to video via NFL.com. “He did come in with some off-the-field questions, more immaturity than anything else. Can you imagine a better place for George Pickens to be drafted than right here, where there’s an incredible history of not just developing wide receivers but developing all different types of wide receivers, including some that have had some things off-the-field.”
Playing for a veteran coach like Mike Tomlin and a team featuring a host of veterans including Pro Bowlers on each side of the ball, and it appears the stars might have aligned once again for Colbert in what was his final draft. Pickens has often been compared to former Bengals’ star A.J. Green, for many obvious reasons like alma mater and their physical stature. If Pickens can live up to that billing, he will become a household name in short order, while also finding himself entrenched as a key building block for a very young offense.