A series we began last year that we’ll conduct throughout the offseason. A review of individual players seasons, looking at their good, bad, role, and future with the team.
We’ll restart the series with WR George Pickens.
#14 George Pickens – Wide Receiver (Entering 2nd Year)
Pros: Big-bodied receiver. Rare vertical threat who can routinely and consistently win contested. Great tracking of the football. Unbelievable body control and ability to catch on the fringe of his frame. Makes difficult catches look routine. Strong at catch point and plays through contact. Good leaper who can high point the football. Hard to outjump him. Physical blocker and takes pride mixing things up. Keeps CBs on their toes in the run game when they’re rolled up. Improved route runner throughout his rookie year, got more comfortable moving around the formation. Release packages are getting better off the line. Not a bad teammate who gets excited when teammates make plays. Has healthy, receiver-confidence but doesn’t show arrogance.
Notable Clips (Winning Contested Downfield):
Cons: Raw player entering the league and still figuring out how to win beyond the vertical/contested game. Can drop weight but doesn’t create a ton of separation. Needs to sell vertical routes harder to create space underneath. Lacks nuance as a route runner on intermediate routes to beat man coverage. Lack of separation hurts YAC ability (2.0 YAC/R was 127 of 127 receivers with 35+ receptions). More limited route tree can cause his game to go quiet for stretches. Won’t always run routes to correct depth. Will get frustrated if he isn’t involved enough. Wears emotions on his sleeve and can lose focus.
Negative Plays: (Miscommunications/Improper Depth)
Role: 52 receptions on 84 targets in 2022. Finished with 801 yards (15.4 YPC) and four TDs, long of 42. Three rushes for 24 yards and a touchdown. Z-receiver who played 882 snaps as a rookie. Had more games with under five yards (three) than games of 85+ yards (one). 28.1% of snaps came from the slot. Only eight of 52 receptions (15.4%) came from the slot but 50% of his touchdowns (two of four) were from there. Played only 74 slot snaps before the bye (9.3 per game) compared to 156 after the bye (17.3 per game).
Future: George Pickens made splash plays his rookie year but will look to have more volume and overall production to impact the game more consistently. Still, his bread and butter is winning downfield and he is one of the very few receivers who can live off winning contested catches against cornerbacks downfield. Expanding his game will just take it to another level.