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Steelers OC Matt Canada commented on rookie WR George Pickens. “He can go down the field, he can make plays, he goes up and gets the football… we were impressed with his hands -- all those things you like about a wideout,” Canada said. “But I think probably for me sitting here, I think that [returning from a torn ACL late last season] said a lot about his character. He wanted to be part of that team, he wanted to be part of that championship and he fought to come back.” Pickens declared himself 100% healthy earlier this month. His 2022 path to targets isn’t clear, but it's easy to see him carving out a decent-sized role as the season develops. He’s currently our WR90 in redraft.

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The Steelers added Georgia WR George Pickens with the 52nd overall pick of the 2022 NFL Draft. Pickens was a 5-star recruit and a top-5 WR in the 2019 class. He immediately delivered on that hype, leading the Bulldogs in catches (49), yards (727) and TDs (8) as a true freshman. He ranked 17th in Pro Football Focus’ receiving grades among 290 WRs with 50+ targets – 2 spots ahead of Jerry Jeudy and 3 spots ahead of Justin Jefferson. Pickens improved his per-game numbers a tad in 2020, averaging 4.5 catches, 64.1 yards and .75 TDs across 8 games. But his PFF receiving grade took a significant step back, landing 75th among 146 qualifying WRs. Pickens’ 2021 was then basically wiped out by a torn right ACL suffered in March of that year. He made it back for the final 4 games of the season but totaled just 4 catches. That freshman year is enticing, though, and Pickens pops on tape. He has long-striding speed, a big catch radius and is physical after the catch. The 6’3, 195-pounder earned a 94th percentile Relative Athletic Score at the Combine. Pickens’ limited college resume leaves him as a risky prospect. But he has the upside to develop into a #1 WR in the NFL. Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool are locked in as Pittsburgh’s top 2 WRs in the short term, but Pickens has a good shot to win the #3 WR job this summer. Longer term, Johnson is is the final year of his contract and Claypool is set to hit free agency in 2024.

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