George Pickens and Kenny Pickett are starting to build a special connection in Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ first two draft picks in the 2022 NFL draft had their rookie year signature moment last Saturday when the two connected on a touchdown pitch and catch with 46 seconds left to beat the Las Vegas Raiders.
Today, Pickens joined The Arthur Moats Experience with Deke podcast, streamed on YouTube, and talked about what he has seen with Pickett this season.
“It’s been a crazy, crazy, crazy season,” Pickens said. “With that being said, Kenny is a rookie just like me. So me and him both, every day is trial and error. If we did this before we would know what’s going to happen. But it’s our first go around so everything is trial and error. Like he [Pickett] was saying, from training camp to now, it’s way more advanced, he’s way more advanced. He’s way smarter, quicker, faster, you can just tell.
“And this is on the back end of the season. That just really showed me, I already knew he was a fighter, like a real in-game, it doesn’t matter if it comes down the wire he’s going to put in his best effort. But now I can kind of see like when you understand the game. The game speed is in a new league. That’s kind of what I’ve been seeing.”
While Pickens saw game action right from Week One (a perk of being a receiver), Pickett did not, sitting behind quarterback Mitchell Trubisky for three and a half games until he was thrust into action against the New York Jets after halftime.
Pickett struggled early on, throwing three interceptions in his first appearance and continuing the unfortunate trend of turning the ball over in three of his next four games, including three times in a heartbreaking loss to the Miami Dolphins.
However, as the season has gone on he has improved, and since the bye week, he has been playing some pretty good ball. As Pickens said, it is easy to tell the game is starting to slow down for Pickett, something that was only going to happen through game action. Since the bye week, Pickett has thrown three touchdowns to only one interception and has led three game-winning drives which is tied for ninth-best in the NFL.
If the Steelers are going to be Super Bowl contenders they will need the Pickett to Pickens connection to be money. So far, it has looked pretty, pretty, pretty good to quote Larry David. The two have amassed 582 yards, three touchdowns, and an average of 14.6 yards per completion together. All of Pickens’ touchdowns have come when Pickett has been playing quarterback, and of Pickett’s five touchdown passes, Pickens caught three. Throw in a two-point conversion in the Indianapolis Colts game, and Pickett has successfully found Pickens in the end zone four times on the season.
Both Pickett and Pickens must take a second-year leap. While they have both been playing well for rookies, they each can improve on their game. Next year will be huge for not only both of them but also for the Steelers organization. If Pickett and Pickens improve and look really good next year as veterans then the Steelers could be set up for years to come. If not, well the future will not be bright in Pittsburgh. Certainly exciting times in the Steel City.