Coming out of the University of Georgia, wide receiver George Pickens had all the tools necessary to be a great receiver in the NFL rather quickly.
Even knowing that and knowing he should have been in the discussion for the top receiver in the 2022 NFL Draft class, his performance as a rookie for the Pittsburgh Steelers was rather jaw dropping, especially for veteran linebacker and reigning Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt.
Appearing on NBC Sports with longtime journalist Peter King Thursday, Watt heaped praise on the terrific young receiver, stating that he isn’t sure if Pickens knows how good he is.
“George Pickens is one of those guys that’s like, I don’t know if he understands how good he is,” Watt said to King, according to video via NBC Sports. “It’s like holy cow — some of the things you see in practice. But it’s also on top of that, it’s the little things. Like finishing plays, running — he can run for days.”
Nobody really knew how good Pickens was going to be that quickly, but he was and it was certainly to the Steelers’ benefit.
As a rookie, Pickens emerged into arguably the top receiver for the Steelers, finishing his rookie season with 52 catches for 801 yards and four touchdowns, quickly turning into one of the best contested-catch receivers in the game, consistently making the highlight-reel receptions for the Steelers in the second half of the season.
His development was rather remarkable to watch dating back to training camp and ultimately allowed the Steelers to move on from Chase Claypool via trade to the Chicago Bears for a second round pick prior to the NFL Trade Deadline.
Pickens likely doesn’t know how good he currently is, or how good he can be moving forward, but he did have a rather terrific rookie season and has a bright future overall moving forward for the black and gold.
As he continues to develop, he’ll only get better and better, especially at the small nuances of the game at the receiver position. That’s a scary thought for defenses around the league moving forward.