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Kinkhabwala: Rookie WR George Pickens ‘Fitting In Exactly As You’d Want Him To Fit In’

Arguably the most consistent presence thus far in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ training camp this year has been praise for rookie wide receiver George Pickens, the team’s second-round draft pick out of Georgia who was the only rookie listed as a starter on the team’s first official depth chart.

While he has been far from perfect, to be sure—Alex Kozora has noted the need to reduce a tendency to double-catch some passes—there isn’t much that Pickens hasn’t displayed in his skill set. He has size, speed, route-running ability, the proverbial ‘ups’. He’s got the complete package, and plenty in the outside media have taken note.

Aditi Kinkhabwala, for example, hopped on 93.7 The Fan yesterday with The PM Team to talk training camp observations, and she has been hearing some flattering things about the rookie, not just locally, but around the league:

Everything that I am being told says that he’s fitting in exactly as you’d want him to fit in. And I’ll repeat what I said last week, there’s a general manager in the league who told me that their organization believed Pickens was the best receiver in the entire draft, and that although there were some red flags about him, this is the absolute best situation for him—that being with the Steelers and being with Mike Tomlin was the best possible place that he could have gotten, considering whatever those red flags were.

Pickens was the 11th wide receiver drafted overall, but one can’t have this conversation without noting the very important context that he was still coming back from a torn ACL, and had hardly even played during his final season in college because of it.

Had he had a healthy season, or even came out of college a year earlier without having gone through that injury, he almost surely is a first-round pick. There hasn’t ever been much in the way of skepticism about his pure talent.

As for these ‘red flags’, I never much bought into them in the first place, but Kinkhabwala’s is not the first account of those around the league suggesting that Pickens landed in the ideal spot to keep whatever issues might crop up in check.

Back in May, for example, Jeremy Fowler wrote an article in which he said that Pickens entered “an ideal scenario”, and that “Pickens and people close to him are happy he is going to a good environment like Pittsburgh’s to learn from trusted veterans and absorb a model NFL culture”. Mike Sando for The Athletic around the same time wrote that “Execs saw the Steelers’ Mike Tomlin as an ideal head coach for managing Pickens, whose maturity was a concern at times during his career at Georgia”.

A concern for whom? Not for the Steelers. Not then, and certainly not now.

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