The Heroes and Villains of the Steelers' Season: 5 players saving the day, 5 causing mayhem

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett (8)
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett (8) / Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
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Steelers second best-performing player: George Pickens

While George Pickens was fantastic as a rookie, reeling in highlight catch after highlight catch, there were still a lot of questions surrounding his ability to take his game to the next level. His route tree was poor as a rookie, and while the impressive catches were fun to watch, he needed to become a more complete receiver.

So far this season, he has done just that. In fact, he hasn’t had the same impressive contested catches this season. That isn’t his fault either, as this passing game has been poor for most of the season and when he is set up for a contested catch, the ball placement has also been bad. That said, Pickens has still taken the next steps for this offense.

His route tree is far more diverse than it was a year ago, and it has allowed him to be a more complete target for this team. He has also seen his yards after the catch blossom, proving that he is more than just a jump ball specialist. His best trait as a rookie has arguably been taken away in his contested catches, but Pickens still looks like an ascending star.

Frankly, the sky is the limit for him, and the only thing holding him back is who is lackluster offense. With Diontae Johnson set to return to the field soon, some pressure will likely come off Pickens in the passing game. This could yield big results, as he has proven to be a threat when matched up one-on-one with a defensive back. He has been the brightest spot on an otherwise lackluster offense.