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How George Pickens Has Become Steelers Most Important Offensive Player (+)

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Pittsburgh Steelers WR George Pickens
Pittsburgh Steelers WR George Pickens

The Pittsburgh Steelers organization made a point this offseason to go out and switch things up on the offensive side of the ball. First, it was the hiring of Arthur Smith, previously the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons. Shortly after that, they acquired both Russell Wilson and Justin Fields following unfilled expectations from their previous organizations. All of those moves will play a significant role in how the 2024 season will shape out for the team but the most important person on the Steelers roster is actually someone different. It’s wide receiver George Pickens.

After sliding outside the top-50 of the 2022 NFL Draft, the Alabama native already has teams regretting their decisions to pass on him. Through two seasons, he’s registered 1,941 receiving yards, nine touchdowns and has averaged a whopping 16.9 yards per reception, leading the entire league in 2023. Those are really solid numbers on the surface but when you factor in the underwhelming quarterback play, uninspiring offensive scheme and relatively predictable usage, his output becomes much more impressive.

Coming into the league at 21-years old isn’t easy and in Pickens case, we knew that he was still in the very beginning stages of his development path. Last year, he was given more chances to line up as the teams X-receiver and was given a marginally more robust route tree as a result of that alignment. The traits for him to succeed in this role have always been there. His ability to win vertically, create separation with speed or leaping ability and body control at the catch point is fantastic. There are few players that are better in contested catch situations, having hauled in over 50% of his 50/50 balls since entering the league, according to PFF.

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