Now that training camp is over with the Pittsburgh Steelers back in Pittsburgh and gearing up for what they hope will be a much more productive season, it’s time to take stock of where the team stands. Specifically, where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen and are seeing over the course of training camp and the preseason and the regular season as it plays out. A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasoning for each one. In some cases, it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances, it will be a direct response to something that just happened. Because of this, we can and will see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: WR George Pickens
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: The rookie wide receiver as more involved in the Steelers’ offense on Sunday than he had been in the first three weeks, targeted eight times for six catches and 102 yards, going 4-for-4 with Kenny Pickett for the good majority of his yardage. He also pancaked a defender on a block.
Perhaps this wasn’t quite the ‘breakout’ game for rookie second-round draft pick George Pickens, but it was certainly, from a total game perspective, the closest look that we have gotten thus far about what his impact can be.
While he has already made some highlight-reel plays that actually counted, such as his Odell Beckham Jr.-like reception a couple weeks back, but he only came into Sunday’s game with five catches, three of which were for five yards or less.
As mentioned, he caught six passes on Sunday, four of them from quarterback Kenny Pickett, going for 102 yards, the first 100-yard game of his career and the first for any Steelers player on the season. Granted, his final 27-yard reception came with just seconds to go to set up a desperation Hail Mary against a prevent defense, but that doesn’t take away from the overall game that he had.
There was this nifty back-shoulder catch and throw, for example, at the end of the third quarter for an offense that was struggling to convert on third down for weeks at that point, and which they were able to do emphatically there.
There’s going to be plenty more to come from both of these young players, of course. They’re just at the very beginning of their careers, and they’re not going to grow just as individuals, but as a tandem. Pickett clearly has a connection with Pickens, the receiver on the field he probably spent the most time working with during the offseason.