How George Pickens and the Steelers can put league on notice this Saturday

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver George Pickens (14). Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver George Pickens (14). Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

George Pickens has already proven his lethality to the Steelers, but can he prove it to the rest of the league this Saturday?

Steelers wide receiver George Pickens has been one of the most promising talents in Pittsburgh despite not having played a single game yet. He has done so by showing both his commitment to every ball thrown his way and the reliability of his hands when catching them.

But it’s not like the rookie is doing so in some 1-on-1 backyard tossing; rather, he’s been reeling in grabs while covered by some of the better defensive backs that Pittsburgh has to offer (most notably cornerback Levi Wallace and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick).

However, there is only so much that can be said about looking dapper against your own teammates on a practice field. Pickens needs to face an actual opponent, in a stadium with a crowd, and some members of said crowd need to be cheering against him. Standing out under those circumstances is what will turn the heads of not just Steelers fans, but all other NFL viewers as well.

Now sure, a scenario as dramatic as that one won’t unfold in its truest form until Pickens is placed in some primetime rivalry game, preferably with something huge on the line, such as a playoff berth. But since those days will have to wait, Pittsburgh’s first preseason matchup will have to suffice.

Steelers WR George Pickens could grab the league’s attention

This Saturday, the Steelers will be hosting the Seattle Seahawks in what will hopefully be a telling battle for more pressing matters, such as quarterback and offensive line concerns. It should also be a relatively fitting introduction to unfamiliar competition for promising rookies like Pickens, though.

Again, it’s no Super Bowl, but considering the fact that Seattle has its own share of young defensive talents—which are under the control of a defensive mind like Pete Carroll’s—there have definitely been softer entrances to NFL careers.

Returning to the previous remark about quarterback concerns, Saturday will also serve as a way to gauge how well Pickens will be able to work with each Steelers QB that makes an appearance.

Head coach Mike Tomlin has openly stated that the race for starter is rather tight, with him refraining from being too confident about which quarterback will ultimately get the nod. With that in mind, viewers should expect to see each option getting some serious snaps over the course of this preseason stretch, and that is likely to begin with the Seattle game.

As far as what that means for Pickens, he should be getting as much game time with each QB as humanly possible, which is good for two reasons in particular.

For starters, common sense dictates that it’s good for receivers to be as comfortable with every quarterback on their team as they can be solely for the sake of showing an ability to work flexibly.

The second reason branches off of the first, with the unfortunate truth being that you never know when your QB room is going to be strained like Pittsburgh’s was back in 2019.

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The hands, the consistent competitiveness, the potential to adapt to varying quarterback play—it should all be on display against the Seahawks this Saturday night. Once it is, the rest of the league might want to sleep with one eye open for the phenom that is George Pickens.