The Pittsburgh Steelers continued their training camp practices on Tuesday morning, and the George Pickens hype doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.
There must be Steelers fans out there who are constantly hearing about George Pickens and wondering why he is getting so my hype. Let me just tell you that, from my first-hand experience at Steelers training camp, the praise is warranted.
I was very high on Pickens as a prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft. He was the 37th overall player on my big board and Pittsburgh was able to secure him with the 52nd overall pick (some believe this was due to character issues during his time at Georgia). I don’t mean to overreact, but it’s looking like Pittsburgh might have had a gem fall into their lap.
It was easy to see that Pickens had a rare blend of traits that could make him a physically imposing weapon at the next level, but I didn’t think things would come together quite so fast for him. Though we haven’t even seen him in preseason action yet, Pickett has been dominating the market share of targets during Steelers training camp practices… and for good reason.
On Tuesday, Pickens once again put on a clinic as he helped Mitch Trubisky to the best performance of his training camp so far. In one-on-ones, he made defensive backs look silly as he rose over the top of Cameron Sutton on multiple reps to make an acrobatic catch. That impressive play continued into team sessions.
George Pickens making most of his reps at Steelers camp
Chase Claypool has finally returned to practice after dealing with a shoulder injury. Meanwhile, Diontae Johnson recently returned from his contract hold-in but was quickly sidelined again as he now deals with a hip flexor. Their misfortunes have been Pickens’ gain.
It’s safe to say that George Pickens has made the most of his opportunities with the first-team offense. After showcasing his skills the way he has so far, he could be in line for heavy work from the gate this season.
Pickens even has an advantage over Johnson and Claypool at this point in time when it comes to chemistry with his quarterback. Since the start of camp, Pittsburgh’s second-round pick has been rolling with the first-team offense and has gotten targeted routinely by Mitch Trubisky. On the other hand, Claypool and Johnson haven’t had much time at all to work on their connection with their projected starting quarterback.
Watching George Pickens in person, it’s hard not to marvel at his combination of size, fluidity, and impressive hand-eye coordination when the football is in the air. It’s remarkable how natural he looks at just 21 years old and with on 12 games of experience since his freshman season at Georgia.
In fact, I don’t recall the last time I’ve seen any rookie stand out this much before the Steelers even suited up for their first preseason game. Pickens’ flashes bring back shades of a rookie Martavis Bryant — though I would argue that Pickens has been even more impressive than Byrant was in his first Steelers training camp.
All eyes will undoubtedly be on Pickens as he takes the stage for his first NFL action on Saturday night when the Steelers play their first exhibition action against the Seahawks. Based on what I have seen from him at training camp, I fully expect him to impress.