Drafting George Pickens considered Steelers best offseason move
The Steelers are hoping they struck gold with George Pickens in the NFL Draft. Here’s why Pro Football Focus considers him to be Pittsburgh’s best offseason move.
With a plethora of spending money for the first time in years, former GM Kevin Colbert didn’t hold back when it came to offseason moves for the Pittsburgh Steelers. After Ben Roethlisberger retired, Colbert brought in a stable presence in the QB room in Mitch Trubisky. He also added quality depth to several positions with players like James Daniels, Levi Wallace, Myles Jack, and Larry Oginjobi.
Additionally, Pittsburgh selected a player they believe can be their quarterback of the future in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Kenny Pickett is coming to a great organization and should be given every opportunity to succeed.
Despite all of the moves they’ve made during the 2022 offseason, Pro Football Focus believes that one, in particular, is in a class of its own above the rest: drafting WR George Pickens in the second round this year. Here’s some of what PFF’s Brad Spielberger had to say:
"No team has done a better job over the last two decades of finding wide receiver talent outside of the first round, developing these players into upper echelon contributors on their rookie contracts and most often letting them walk in free agency as they rinse and repeat… Adding Georgia wide receiver George Pickens and Memphis wide receiver Calvin Austin III to a position room that also includes Chase Claypool gives them leverage and flexibility moving forward. Throw in tight end Pat Freiermuth and the Steelers still potentially have a dynamic group of young pass-catchers even without their top option of the past several years."
In addition to this, Spielberger noted that the Steelers now have flexibility when it comes to the Diontae Johnson situation and that they won’t have to overreach to extend him with a number they aren’t comfortable with.
Was drafting Pickens the Steelers best offseason move?
There is an argument to be made for some other big moves this offseason. Obviously, fans hope that Kenny Pickett can turn out to be the best decision Pittsburgh made since Ben Roethlisberger. Additionally, hiring a new GM is a big deal and Omar Khan could prove to be one of the most important members of the organization for years.
However, there is still a case to be made for George Pickens. The former Georgia wide receiver burst onto the stage during his freshman season for the Bulldogs in 2019, as he recorded 727 yards and 8 touchdowns to go with nearly 15 yards per reception in 12 games, via Sports Reference.
Sadly, his production took a major hit over the next two seasons as injuries kept him off the field for all but 12 combined games in 2020 and 2021. Surprisingly, Pickens didn’t carve out a big market share when he was on the field, but he was still able to flash his big-play ability when Georgia would look his way.
The 21-year-old will look to make a splash right away with the Steelers, and he certainly has the ability to do so. At 6’3” and 195 pounds with a large catch radius, Pickens possesses quality 4.47 speed and wins down the field thanks to his natural football traits and his ability to win in traffic.
Pickens projects as a ‘Z’ receiver to begin his career in Pittsburgh (similarly to Chase Claypool). However, he does have the upside and traits to be the starting ‘X’ receiver in the future. That time could come pretty soon if the Steelers don’t come to terms on an extension with Diontae Johnson.
Though there were ten receivers selected ahead of him in the 2022 NFL Draft, it’s entirely possible that Pickens proves to be one of the best of the group. The talent is all there. However, some teams were scared away by his personality, which is part of the reason why he fell to the Steelers.
The team is obviously banking on him not becoming an issue in this regard. If he can prove to be a coachable player and can continue to make strides, the sky is the limit for Geoge Pickens in the NFL. There’s a solid chance he could turn out to be the Steelers best move from the 2022 offseason.