Pickens Could Be The Steal Of Day 2 | NFL Draft

Updated: Apr 7


By Adam Aniba


In 2019 Georgia receiver George Pickens was one of the most electrifying freshman receivers in the nation. Unfortunately he would miss a few games in 2020, but after only 4 games in '21, Pickens tore the ACL in his right knee. His recovery is ahead of schedule and his combine numbers showed he's regaining form for the '22 season.


The UGA receiver can be a game changer, particularly with his ability as a downfield threat. Prior to his injury, he was viewed by many as 1st round prospect. Although some might be hesitant to draft Pickens in the top 60 after his knee injury, the reward would far exceed the risk as a potential 2nd round steal.


George Pickens

6'3" 195 lbs | WR | UGA

Draft Proj 2nd Rd

Career (24 games) 90 rec 1,347 yds & 14 tds 15.0 per rec avg

'21 (4 games) 5 rec for 107 yds & 0 tds 21.4 per rec avg


Background

Pickens attended Hoover HS in Alabama where he was a 5-star recruit and top 25 overall recruit nationally. He was unstoppable during his senior year registering 1,368 receiving yards with 16 touchdowns. Multiple top college football programs courted Pickens and initially, he committed to play for Auburn. He would change course from staying in his home state of Alabama and instead committed to pay for Kirby Smart at Georgia.


Pickens made an instant impact at UGA in '19 as a freshman. He led the team with 8 touchdowns on 727 receiving yards and a 14.8 yards per catch avg. After a freshman season with such high hopes, Pickens would only play in 12 games during his sophomore (8 games) and junior seasons (620 yds 6 touchdowns total) due injury.


Although Pickens is just a year removed from ACL surgery, his NFL Combine 4.47 second forty and 33" vertical leap renewed hope in many that the UGA receiver is close to 100%. Georgia coaches and NFL officials are reportedly happy with Pickens fast recovery with no setbacks.


His ability to gain separation, while facing the best defensive backs in the SEC is testament to his ability as a quick twitch receiving threat. A routine comeback or curl route, can lead to a house call anytime Pickens gets his hands on the ball. His route tree arsenal was limited at UGA, but skies the limit with his ability to improve in that area.



The UGA receiver has a lean frame with some concern over his long-term impact, most notably when facing jams and being tasked with blocking downfield. Although blocking isn't his strong suit, Pickens is extremely competitive and won't shy away from contact.


Pickens is decisive when running quick/underneath routes. SEC defenders attempted to press/jam him at the line or push him off his routes with some success. Asserting himself and refining his countermoves vs press coverage should be an area of focus.


Pickens forty time and vertical leap were almost identical to former UGA receiver AJ Green, who some evaluators have compared him to on the next level. High praise for sure, but he certainly has a high ceiling.


PROS

  • Fast and decisive after the catch, displays multiple gears

  • Very good athleticism and fluid coming in & out of his breaks (rarely rounds off routes)

  • Wide catch radius with long arms & strong hands, led to multiple acrobatic receptions in tight coverage

  • Quick twitch and speed make him a hard cover assignment and dangerous deep threat

  • Excels at high pointed 50/50 balls

  • Very good ball tracker, concentration lapses are far and few in between


CONS

  • Needs to add weight to his frame for the pro grind

  • Limited route tree run at UGA (minimal concern)

  • Recovering from an ACL tear (minimal long term concern)

  • Can be knocked of his route by aggressive DB's, needs to develop countermoves vs press coverage

  • Needs to show more situational awareness, notably blocking downfield

  • Only 24 career games played (will need to be eased into a pro offense)


Final Thought

Pickens is a true outside X receiver with very little to offer on special teams, so a team will have to have a plan for him early on while he absorbs the playbook. Pickens excels facing man-to-man coverage, utilizing his impressive length and strong hands to beat aggressive defensive backs, on downfiled go routes and underneath patterns.


His improvisational ability to break off route is an underrated facet of his game. In addition, coming out on the winning end of contested catches will be how Pickens makes his mark on the next level.


Although the draft is deep at receiver, the two Alabama receivers and Pickens are all post '21 surgery prospects that have high upsides. Pickens will be an absolute steal as a mid 2nd round selection, if he lasts that long.


*Games Watched- 10/12/19 vs S.CAR, 12/7/19 vs LOU ST, 1/1/20 vs Baylor,

11/21/20 vs MISS ST, 12/12/20 vs MIZZ, 1/1/21 vs CIN, 11/27/21 vs GT,

12/4 vs ALA, 12/31 vs MICH & 1/10/22 vs ALA


*Team Fits- WAS, NYJ, PHI, NO, DAL, CLEV & GB


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