Georgia wide receiver George Pickens was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the No. 52 overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft on Friday in Las Vegas.
Pickens suffered an ACL injury during spring practice in March 2021. He underwent surgery and returned to the Bulldogs' lineup in late November to help UGA chase down its first national championship since 1980.
The 21-year-old Alabama native didn't make a consistent impact upon his return, catching just five passes across four games, but he flashed his game-changing ability with a terrific 52-yard catch against Bama in the national title game:
Pickens finished his three-year tenure at Georgia with 90 catches for 1,347 yards and 14 touchdowns across 24 appearances.
Now he'll look to make an instant impact with the Steelers. Here's the team's updated offensive depth chart following his addition:
WR: Diontae Johnson, George Pickens, Miles Boykin, Rico Bussey
WR: Chase Claypool, Cody White, Tyler Vaughns
SWR: Anthony Miller, Steven Sims, Gunner Olszewski
Pickens possess an NFL-ready frame (6'3", 195 pounds) and strong hands, which have allowed him to regularly win one-on-one battles on the outside. He's also displayed a long stride that makes him a deep threat despite the lack of high-end speed.
Bleacher Report's Nate Tice wrote in his predraft scouting report the receiver arrives as a "useful option for NFL offenses with some room to grow into a more featured role":
"Pickens is a long outside wide receiver with good size and play strength. He plays with a competitive streak that shows up when he is attacking the ball in the air and in the run game as a blocker.
"Pickens' hand-eye coordination and balance show up when he's tracking deep throws and on contested catches. He is a natural catcher of the football and can consistently contort his body and haul in throws at all angles."
Pickens' route-running is the one thing Tice pointed out as an area in need of some improvement if the wideout is going to elevate his game at the next level.
Bleacher Report's Scouting Department listed Pickens as the seventh-best receiver and No. 34 overall player in the class.
The 2020 Sugar Bowl MVP should be a reliable asset for the Steelers as a rookie, even if he doesn't post monster numbers. His effectiveness in the red zone and willingness to make an impact as a blocker figure to earn him ample playing time.
How quickly his partnership with quarterback Mitch Trubisky (or Kenny Pickett if Pickett wins the job) develops will determine when he becomes a major all-situations factor in the Pittsburgh passing attack. He'll join a receiver group currently led by Diontae Johnson.