George Pickens is off to a fast start in his second season with the Steelers, and most of the production has come without Diontae Johnson on the other side. So, the Texans will have to prepare for a guy like Pickens, but in doing so, they understand his contested catch strengths are there even though he has not received many opportunities to flash them this year.
Talking with the media this year, Texans defensive coordinator Matt Burke talked about the impact that Pickens can have. He even sees some DeAndre Hopkins in his game. As lofty as that comparison can seem, Pickens has shown some freaky traits that do compare to Hopkins.
“Yeah, he’s obviously a dynamic player. Really good at the catch point,” Burke said. “Can go up with anybody and make plays at the high point. I would probably say that’s one of his specialties. I know this might be blasphemy, but he reminds me a little bit of ‘D-Hop’ [DeAndre Hopkins] in that sense. They put the ball up to him and they trust that he can go get it. So obviously, one of our sort of keys to victory is not giving up explosive plays, and he’s a big factor in that. So, again, we’ve got to ask our corners to play the technique that we ask them to play, and let the coverages work for them. If it’s a coverage that maybe they have to go to work on, they go to work on it. If there’s a coverage that we can help in this situation, then we’ll do that. So, I feel good about where Nelly [Steven Nelson] and those guys have been. Again, just playing within the confines of the defense, and that’s kind of how we’re going to approach this week, too.”
For Pickens, it is about the growth of becoming a better all-around wide receiver. Pickens is still growing as a player, but he has the baseline of an elite trait, his ball skills, to work off. Now, if he can continue adding the YAC skills he has shown so far and become a significant play threat over the middle of the field, he suddenly goes from someone who makes those highlight reel grabs to someone defenses have to worry about at all three levels of the field in all areas of the field.
From here on, George Pickens must continue proving he can play at a high level. He has some tough matchups on tap that should see him get even more opportunities to run the stat sheet up. With his explosive efficiency, Pickens can not only solve some of the offensive woes Pittsburgh has even with Johnson out but when he does return, Pickens could be set for an even bigger role.