Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver, George Pickens has the full attention of everyone at training camp in Latrobe. The rookie out of the University of Georgia, fell in the 2022 NFL Draft after a disappointing 2021 season. Injuries plagued his time on the field, leading to a bit of a dip in his draft stock. Many felt as if he was the most talented wide out in the 2022 draft class, and just a week into camp, that could hold true.
His unique combination of size and speed makes him one of those once-in-a-few-years kind of talent. The Steelers have had that kind of WR recently. Rewind just a few years, and Pickens has flashes of Martavis Bryant. After not playing the first handful of games in his rookie year in 2014, Bryant had an instant impact. Specifically, he presented as the team’s best red zone target for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Bryant didn’t particularly rack up a ton of yards, largely due to Antonio Brown averaging over 100 receiving yards per game. In 10 games, Bryant had just 26 catches for 549 yards and eight touchdowns in his rookie season. He averaged just 2.6 catches per game, reeling in just 54.2% of his targets. That’s largely due to the fact that he was primarily a deep-play threat, as evidenced by his 21.1 yards per catch.
Looking ahead to Pickens’ rookie year, and the two situations are obviously different for a few reasons. First, Pickens won’t have nearly as good of a quarterback throwing to him, whether it be Mason Rudolph, Kenny Pickett, or the likely starter, Mitch Trubisky. In 2015, Bryant was only competing with Markus Wheaton as the team’s No. 2 wide out. Pickens will have to compete with fellow rookie Calvin Austin III as well as third-year WR Chase Claypool for targets.
In other words, yes, there are differences in the two situations when comparing the rookie year of Bryant and Pickens. The two’s size, speed, and overall talent though is comparable in itself. It’ll be interesting to see if Pickens can have an impact like Bryant did in his rookie season. For the Steelers, that could be the difference between letting Johnson walk next off-season or giving in to his $20+ million per year demands.
What are your stat predictions for Pickens’ rookie year in 2022? Will he establish himself as the team’s No. 2 WR? Will he have a Bryant-esque impact? Let us know all of your George Pickens thoughts in the comments below!
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