Steelers are holding Pickens back from OROY consideration
By Andrew Falce
The Steelers are struggling, and their issues are making it tough for their rookie receiver to shine.
It is no secret that the Steelers are currently fielding one of the worst offenses in the NFL. There is plenty of blame to go around, from the play calling to the quarterback play, this group is easily amongst the worst in the NFL. While this has led to a slow start for the team, it is also impacting the perception of one of their brightest rookies.
George Pickens set the world on notice during the offseason. The second-round pick was perceived as a steal by most people, and that looked to be just the case early on in his camp debut. He made impactful catches daily and consistently had glowing reviews of his play to start camp. Add in a solid preseason and Pickens was poised to be an impact player in this offense.
Pickens is better than the Steelers have made him look
That hasn’t been the case, and for the most part, it hasn’t been his fault. While his five receptions and 65 receiving yards aren’t putting anyone on notice, the other receivers in this group have equally bad stats. Diontae Johnson has been his usual target hound, but he is only averaging a measly 9.3 yards per catch. Chase Claypool, meanwhile, hasn’t been used like a mismatch and has equally appalling numbers.
If the Steelers had a capable offensive plan in place and a more aggressive quarterback, there is little question that this group would be excelling right now. I list Pickens as the main point though, as he has displayed some elite traits and ball control. One just has to think about his outstanding catch against the Browns last week.
He has shown the ability to get open and the ability to make outstanding catches. There is little reason that he shouldn’t be one of the better deep threats in the league right now, but the Steelers offense is too limited to get him involved properly. This is affecting their ability to win, naturally, but it is also holding back a very promising rookie.
Pickens has rookie of the year ability
Based on the three games we have seen so far; I believe that Pickens is one of the most talented receivers in this class. While names like Drake London, Chris Olave, and Garrett Wilson have shined so far, Pickens has a similar skillset to these players. The difference is, their offense is scheming them to be major contributors every week. The Steelers are using Pickens more as a decoy.
In short, this is impacting his potential at some awards at the end of the season. With no rookie quarterback seeing playing time right now, it seems as though a receiver is the most likely offensive rookie of the year. Pickens has the ability to win such an award, but not in this current offense that can’t seem to use him properly.
The Steelers need to find a way to fix this offense and soon. While a complete turnaround and top-five ranking are almost impossible for this group, there are far too many weapons in this unit to be struggling this badly. Pickens has flashed elite ability, but the team is holding him back right now despite their need for some positive offensive talent.