The Steelers invested their top draft choices on offense. Here’s why one NFL analyst believes they have more than one Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate.
It isn’t often that the Pittsburgh Steelers boast multiple Offensive Rookie of the Year candidates. In fact, they rarely have one who has been a serious contender. There’s a good reason as to why.
Najee Harris was thought to be a candidate to receive this honor last year. Sadly, things didn’t go as planned, as Pittsburgh’s offense struggled to create holes on the ground and there were other rookies around the league who proved to have a far greater impact.
Typically, this award seems to go to a quarterback, but that’s not always the case. Last year, it was wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase who received this honor for just the second time in the last decade (Odell Beckham was the other recipient back in 2014.
Recently, CBS Sports analyst Chris Trapasso listed his top Offensive Rookie of the Year candidates for the upcoming 2022 season. He had more than one Steeler making the list.
Kenny Pickett should be a given, as he seems to be the only rookie quarterback this year with a real shot at starting most of the season. Quarterbacks typically have a leg up on the competition when it comes to OROY because of the impact they have on the team.
Trapasso had Pickett with the 3rd-best odds or raking in this reward in 2022 — just behind wide receivers Skyy Moore and Treylon Burks (who both landed in great situations).
However, Trapasso also included another Steelers rookie among his top OROY candidates: wide receiver, George Pickens. Though he was just 9th on Trapasso’s list, it stands to reason that Pickens could have an opportunity to earn this reward.
Could Steelers WR earn OROY honors?
Though there are two capable receivers ahead of him on the depth chart in Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool, Pickens should earn a sizeable role after JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, and Ray-Ray McCloud each left to join different teams in free agency this offseason.
Additionally, there will be a new quarterback at the helm in Pittsburgh. Whether that is Mitch Trubisky or Kenny Pickett to start the year, whoever the signal-caller is will be starting with a clean slate and Pickens will have a chance to carve out a role as the quarterback’s favorite target.
This certainly wouldn’t have been the case if Ben Roethlisberger was still around as he clearly favorited Johnson in the passing game. Pickens is also a very talented receiver who could have gone much higher had it not been for an ACL tear during his junior season at Georgia. Some teams are also worried about character/maturity issues.
When it’s all said and done, there’s no guarantee that either Kenny Pickett or George Pickens will be realistic Offensive Rookie of the Year candidates. I’m sure we will get a pretty clear picture of their chances of earning this award early in the 2022 season.