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PFF Reveals How Russell Wilson Can Unlock George Pickens’ Full Potential

Can Russell Wilson help take George Pickens’ game to the next level? Pro Football Focus thinks that could happen.



Pittsburgh Steelers George Pickens

In Year 3, George Pickens could be in for a career year with the Pittsburgh Steelers. At this point, he is the clear No. 1 wide receiver after Diontae Johnson was moved, and despite Johnson missing multiple games a year ago, Pickens quickly cleared 1000 yards as a big play machine. However, Pro Football Focus thinks Pickens has another gear in his game that has yet to be unlocked.

Part of that might be the monotonous use of Pickens in Matt Canada’s offense. However, another reason is that the Steelers quarterbacks remained inaccurate a season ago, leading to Pickens having just a 67.5% catchable target rate. Known for his patented deep ball, Russell Wilson should change that, and it’s part of why Pro Football Focus believes that Pickens could elevate to another level with Wilson.

Pittsburgh Steelers WR George Pickens

Pittsburgh Steelers WR George Pickens at the team’s first OTAs session, May 21, 2024 – Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

“The Steelers’ 21.2% uncatchable-inaccurate pass rate in 2023 ranked ninth-highest in the league. Their accurate target rate on throws 20-plus yards down the field wasn’t any better at just 31.4%, the eighth-lowest in the league – which, as everyone knows, is an area of the field in which Pickens is particularly proficient with a 94.0 PFF receiving grade on such targets. This year, the Steelers have veteran Russell Wilson in the “pole position” to start the season, who ranked third among quarterbacks with a 66.3% accurate throw rate,” they wrote.

George Pickens has an innate ability to pull in tough catches from outside his frame. Wilson’s deep ball has sparkled in OTAs so far, and on his 2023 tape, it remained an elite part of his game. Regardless of Wilson’s limitations, his arm remains alive, and the deep ball is still dazzling. Pickens can take advantage of that.

Arthur Smith wants to use Pickens in more diverse ways this upcoming season. He is running a fuller route tree, and Pickens has prepared for that by training as a three-level threat. If he and Wilson can develop early chemistry, Pickens could be in for a big year if they give him the support needed in the wide receiver room.

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