George Pickens does things that most other NFL wide receivers can not do. Whether on the practice field or during games, Pickens has become a human highlight reel, and inside or outside the building, it is not hard to see why the Steelers are so high on his prospects. Heading into his second year, Pickens is looking for a leap that takes him into superstar territory.
Defensive backs in the locker room and former Steelers cornerbacks love what they see out of Pickens. On the latest episode of Not Just Football, Cam Heyward sat down with Joe Haden, who has seen what George Pickens is doing from the outside. As a cornerback, he is stunned at how good Pickens is at jump balls.
“It looks crazy from the outside looking in, just being a fan,” Haden said. “If it’s one-on-one on the outside, look off the safety and throw it over there. The dude has shown it’s not a 50-50 ball, it’s a 90-10 ball. He’s mossing dudes very consistently. You just don’t do that. It’s not a fluke.”
Pickens only has eight 1/2-inch hands, which makes what he does all the more impressive. His grip strength is elite, and you will be hard-pressed to find many drops on Pickens’ tape. As for his success on jump balls, it comes down to four traits. First, his hands contribute in a considerable way there. Second, his ball tracking and ball skills are fantastic. Pickens attacks the ball with an intensity that is rare for receivers. Third, his athleticism and body control allow him to contort in ways you rarely see. Lastly, Pickens uses excellent technique especially when flashing late hands. By doing that, he mitigates the ability of defensive backs to go up and contest those balls. If he adds route running and the releases to his repertoire, it is hard to imagine where Pickens could go from here.
If he can combine that with the explosive plays he put up last year, it is hard not to see Pickens going for over 1,000 yards and making some serious noise this year. Pickens led the NFL in EPA per route run in the season’s final five weeks. That is an actual stat. Pickett will rely upon Pickens a lot this upcoming year, and for good reason. Whenever he did last year, good things happened.