The Pittsburgh Steelers are back in the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex earlier than they had anticipated, having been ousted before they even reached the postseason, which unfortunately marks the sixth consecutive season in which they failed to win a postseason game—tying their longest drought of the Super Bowl era. Yet again, they find themselves undergoing the exit meeting process earlier than anticipated, which means so are we.
The Steelers did arguably perform at or above expectations this year by going 9-8 and nearly making the postseason at all, a reflection of just how much talent they lost during the offseason, from Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Haden to most of their wide receiver room, not to mention Stephon Tuitt’s decision to retire.
While we might not know all the details about what goes on between head coach Mike Tomlin and his players during these exit meetings, we do know how we would conduct those meetings if they were let up to us. So here are the Depot’s exit meetings for the Steelers’ roster following the 2022 season.
Player: George Pickens
Experience: 1 Year
Leading your team in receiving touchdowns as a rookie is never a bad thing, but it’s significantly less exciting, and remarkable when the team only tossed 12 touchdowns all year. Still, George Pickens earned his share of them, four in all, plus a rushing touchdown on top of it.
He rightfully has fans quite excited about his future, having proven during his rookie season to be one of the great contested catch stars of the league. Of course, the goal is to get him in less frequent jump-ball situations, which will require a group effort to improve his route running, expand his route tree, and throw better balls, including more timing routes.
Pickens is too talented, at least I hope, to be the jump ball guy, even though he came down with more than his share of jump balls, something that I just recently took a look at. He’s an athletic wide receiver with shiftiness, so there’s no reason that he can’t harness a more robust and diverse route package.
But he was undeniably fun to watch as a rookie, whether with the ball in his hands or not. He is aggressive as a blocker and put numerous defenders on their backside, though even in this area he’s not lacking in areas to improve.
One hopes that there are no reasons to be concerned about his composure, which seemed to strain to a critical point a time or two during his rookie season at moments when he wasn’t being given many opportunities as a pass target.
But it’s all part of the natural growth and maturation of a young athlete and a young man generally. He won’t even be 22 until March. He could truly be one of the breakout stars of the 2023 season, not just for Pittsburgh, but for the NFL at large. He has that kind of ability. If he and the Steelers can channel it.