5 Steelers players who can't afford to regress in 2023

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver George Pickens (14)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver George Pickens (14) / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
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Steelers can’t have George Pickens regress

One of the most exciting picks from the Steelers draft class last season was George Pickens. While unproven out of Georgia, Pickens flashed elite traits and has the size and build you look for in a dynamic receiver. He produced well as a rookie, earning more playing time as the season went on and seemingly making an impressive catch every week.

While his ability as a contested-catch maker and deep threat were proven as a rookie, he still has areas he needs to improve upon. His route running is lackluster, and his ability after the catch and separation ability needs to get better. While he will never be a big yards after the catch threat, he has to do better than how he did as a rookie.

The Steelers had a similar situation with Chase Claypool a few seasons ago. Coming off of a dynamic rookie year, Claypool didn’t build off anything, and defenses schemed around his ability to score. While I do believe Pickens is a better natural receiver, if he doesn’t take a step forward, it won’t be good for this offense.

If Pickens were to regress, that would leave a massive hole in the receiver room. Again, everything doesn’t have to come together at once, but picking up some more yards after the catch and running some better routes will be huge. If he is stagnant there, he could have a similar arch as Claypool did in his second season.