Steelers could have got the steal of the draft with George Pickens
Updated: May 3, 2022
(Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
The Steelers very well could have got a steal with their second-round pick in Georgia wide receiver George Pickens. If Pickens didn’t tear his ACL during the spring last year, he would would’ve been a sure-fire first-round pick. Coupled with the injury and some maturity concerns, Pickens fell to the 52nd overall pick. Pickens also just turned 21, so there's a ton of upside.
“Coming out of last year, getting early draft prep, we thought he was the best wideout coming out,” Steelers offensive coordinator Matt Canada said of Pickens. “He had a tough injury through the spring but battled to come back and played late in the year for them. We were able to go to his pro day, coach (Mike) Tomlin, (wide receivers) coach (Frisman) Jackson and Colbert were there, and he was impressive beyond belief at his pro day.
“He showed no signs of any injury or anything that way, so we’re really excited to be able to get him at any point in the draft. We were fired up about that, we need him on our team.”
Canada also said that Pickens was "impressive beyond belief" at his pro day. In 24 career games at Georgia, Pickens recorded 90 receptions for 1,347 yards, averaging 15 yards per catch, with 14 touchdowns. After tearing his ACL in spring practice last year, he missed all but the final four games of the season. He caught five passes for 107 yards, including a 52-yard reception in the national championship game against Alabama. Canada praised Pickens' character and will for returning when he could have easily just sat out.
"He could have said, 'Hey, I'm going to get healthy and wait.' That shows a lot about him there," Canada said.
Pickens is an incredible route-runner and plays with a swagger. Sometimes he pushes it to the edge, however, as he was ejected for a brawl against Georgia Tech in 2019. His tenacity on the field is felt though, as he's an exceptional blocker. A trait that I'm sure the Steelers valued.
Pickens joins a receiver room that's returning just two starters from last year -- Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool. Chase Claypool said "welcome to the family" after announcing the Pickens pick at the draft.
Canada said he believes Claypool can work inside in the slot. Pickens said he felt "clearly" he was better on the outside but said he also did a lot of "slot and slot routes" at Georgia.
"The more weapons you have the better; the more competition you have in any room, the better," Canada said about the receiver room.