How George Pickens can avoid a sophomore slump

George Pickens Pittsburgh Steelers v Carolina Panthers
George Pickens Pittsburgh Steelers v Carolina Panthers / Eakin Howard/GettyImages
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Hands, Drops, & Contested Catches

As previously mentioned, George Pickens was drafted for this ability to make spectacular catches. As a rookie, Pickens’ hands were consistent and pretty reliable throughout the season. According to Pro Football Focus, he only dropped four passes, two of which came against Cleveland in Week 3. This came out to a Drop % of only 7.1%, which ranked 75th among WRs with at least 30 targets and was tied with Amari Cooper. 

But where Pickens truly shone was in contested catch situations. He saw 28 contested catch opportunities, tied for 12th-most in the NFL with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and fellow rookie Alec Pierce. Pickens and Pierce were tied for the most among rookies. However, Pickens converted 19 of those opportunities into catches, tied for third-most with Tee Higgins and behind DK Metcalf and Justin Jefferson. Pickens’ contested catch conversion rate of 67.9% ranked 5th in the NFL. He also had no fumbles during his rookie season. 

In general, these numbers are quite impressive, especially for a rookie receiver. When reviewing Pickens’ film, the drops are rarely even mental mistakes. They are often difficult catching situations, with Pickens trying to reel in a bad pass along the sideline. As previously discussed, Pickens uses more movement than necessary and could stand to tighten up not only his route-running but the way he approaches the catch point. Sometimes he can be too late getting his hands up and maybe “does too much” to make a spectacular catch out of one that should be relatively routine.

That said, this can be more affected by external factors rather than internal ones. Obviously, Pickens was a relatively young rookie getting used to not only the NFL in general but working with two different quarterbacks throughout the year. This season, he should ideally be catching passes from one quarterback with whom he can continue to develop chemistry. Furthermore, working with a savvy veteran like Allen Robinson, who was somewhat similar to Pickens at this stage in their respective careers, should continue to help him improve.