If you’ve been following along closely with the daily reports from Pittsburgh Steelers training camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, one name continues to stick out compared to the rest through six practices.
That name? Rookie wide receiver George Pickens.
So far, the second-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft out of Georgia has seemingly been the center of attention due to his overall size, speed and physicality, while also displaying serious body control with his abilities in the air, twisting, turning and contorting to make plays on the football on throws from Mitch Trubisky, Mason Rudolph and fellow rookie Kenny Pickett.
Due to his explosion onto the scene in training camp, Pickens was highlighted as an intriguing player to watch for the Steelers, according to Ari Meirov in a guest article for Pro Football Focus Wednesday morning.
“Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert officially retired after April’s draft, and he left the team with two rookie receivers: second-round pick George Pickens and fourth-round pick Calvin Austin. If history tells us anything, it’s that Colbert knows how to find capable receivers outside of Round 1: Chase Claypool (2nd round, 2020), Diontae Johnson (3rd round, 2019), JuJu Smith-Schuster (2nd round, 2017), Martavis Bryant (4th round, 2014), Emmanuel Sanders (3rd round, 2010), Antonio Brown (6th round, 2010), Mike Wallace (3rd round, 2009),” Meirov writes regarding Pickens in the post for PFF. “Pickens (and Austin) have the potential to join that list. Pickens slipped into the second-round due to some injury and maturity concerns, but his talent was first-round worthy. He’s already made some impressive catches over his first few practices in a Steelers uniform and has been so good that Mitchell Trubisky already trusts him.”
Trubisky has looked Pickens’ way early and often in training camp, especially with Claypool dealing with a shoulder injury, and Johnson conducting a hold-in due to his contract situation with the Steelers. Pickens has seized upon the opportunity early, developing strong rapport with Trubisky and Rudolph while getting reps with the first and second teams at receiver.
“I’m getting to the point where I really trust him throwing him the ball,” Trubisky said, according to video via Steelers.com. “He’s made some great grabs and he’s going to be a great player for us.”
Trubisky is not the only teammate to praise Pickens so early in training camp. Claypool stated he believes Pickens will be the best rookie receiver in the NFL this season, while Mike Tomlin and GM Omar Khan praised Pickens for his development and the energy with which he brings to the field.
Pickens is certainly turning heads and raising eyebrows, which is great news overall from the second-round pick who likely should have been a first-round pick and the top receiver off the board. The Steelers benefitted from some maturity questions and medical red flags though, landing a guy who looks like the next great Steelers wide receiver moving forward.