Ten games into what appears to be a special career in the NFL, rookie wide receiver George Pickens has shown time and time again on the field why he was an absolute steal of the Steelers when they selected him 52nd overall in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Pickens has shown the ability to win down the field as a big-play threat, displayed his impressive body control along the sidelines and his terrific hands overall making some absurd catches in big spots. That doesn’t even mention his ability after the catch to break tackles and pick up extra yardage.
Though he got off to a bit of a slow start with Mitch Trubisky under center, Pickens has emerged in recent weeks with fellow rookie Kenny Pickett under center, becoming one of the top young receivers in the NFL.
Knowing all that, it’s not surprising that Pickens remains the Steelers highest-graded rookie from Pro Football Focus entering Week 12 and Monday Night Football against the Indianapolis Colts.
Currently, Pickens sits at an overall grade of 64.3 on the season. He’s averaging an impressive 15.2 average depth of target on the year, has just three drops on 54 targets, and dominating on contested catch targets this season, hauling in 11-of-18 contested catches.
“Pickens is nearly at the halfway mark of a 1,000-yard receiving season and has 22 first-down receptions so far this year. He’s brought in 11 of his 18 contested targets,” PFF’s Kambui Bomani writes regarding Pickens.
On the year, Pickens’ stat line looks rather solid overall, especially considering he didn’t really step into the full-time role as the clearcut No. 2 option in the Steel City under around Week 4. Through 10 games, Pickens has hauled in 33 passes for 453 yards and two touchdowns, adding another 24 rushing yards and a score on three carries. Pickens has found the end zone in three of the last four Steelers games as he continues to emerge as a potential star receiver.
While he hasn’t quite reached the heights that he displayed in training camp and the preseason, things look very, very promising moving forward for Pickens, who has all the tools and the makeup of a dominant No. 1 receiver. If he can continue to develop a strong rapport with Pickett and gets more and more comfortable in his role offensively, the sky is the limit for the second-round pick, who really only slipped to Day 2 due to his ACL injury and some misguided character concerns.