2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report: George Pickens

George Pickens

George Pickens is an alpha receiver on the field. It’s not necessarily the body type or swagger that illustrates his playstyle, but rather his demeanor. In his blocks, his one-on-one matchups, and catches as he looks to dominate defenders by physically imposing his will. As a five-star recruit, Picken broke out as a freshman having 49 receptions for 727 yards and eight touchdowns. He would then miss seven games during the 2020 season but would have 36 receptions for 513 yards and six touchdowns. For the 2021 season, Pickens missed the majority of the season with a torn ACL. 

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Player Bio

Name: George Pickens
Jersey: No. 1
Position: Wide Receiver
School: Georgia
Class: Junior
Height: 6’3”
Weight: 200 lbs

Games Watched: Alabama (2021), Alabama (2020), Missouri (2020), LSU (2019), Baylor (2019)

Major Injury History: Torn ACL (2021)


Player Breakdown

Hands/Ball Security (9.75/10)

The ability to catch the ball for Pickens comes naturally, as he plucks the ball out of the air smoothly. His wingspan allows him to out-reach defenders when they are near him. He squeezes the ball and always tucks it to brace for contact. Quarterback accuracy has been a concern during Pickens’ Georgia career. However, he has shown the ability to consistently catch errantly thrown passes. This is also significant considering Pickens only had three drops in his career at Georgia on a total of 139 targets. 

Contested Catch (9.25/10)

Pickens is arguably the best-contested catch receiver in this year’s draft. He works through contact and obstructions in his view to relocate the football when his vision is hindered. His long frame allows him to get vertical when he’s in contact with a defender and high-point the ball even when a defender’s weight is on him. When Pickens was squeezing the ball to secure the catch, defenders had a difficult time swatting the ball out.  Overall, Pickens does an exceptional job of working through hands and contact to get the ball. 

Tracking/Body Control (9.5/10)

Pickens can generate some highlight reel sideline plays. His spatial awareness on the sidelines is tremendous but can lack on inside routes when defenders are near. His tracking of the ball and body control are excellent and were typically on display due to the number of errantly thrown passes. Pickens will be effective at back shoulder catches and catches outside of his frame. Overall, the ability to track and contort his body to adjust to footballs outside of his frame is one of his best traits and will be his calling card in the NFL. 

Route Running (8.5/10)

Route running isn’t anything special but effective. Pickens ran lots of hitches, go’s, posts, and some out-breaking routes where he used surprising quickness and boxing out to win. His use of hands allows him to work through contact and not be disrupted in his routes or timing. One of the most surprising elements of Pickens’ route running is his ability to sink into his routes when making a break. It allows him to explode out of breaks and create some separation. Ultimately, the route tree is good, but with his wiggle, Pickens should be able to translate to the NFL.

Separation (8.25/10)

Pickens shows some nice wiggle in his routes. For being a long-player, his ability to use quickness and sink his hips on breaks to generate space is enticing. In addition, Pickens has a knack for finding spaces in zone coverages to settle, and in his short routes. His spatial awareness on routes allows him to find extra space which gives the quarterback more room for a throw. Pickens consistently finds ways to separate down the field where he gives himself space to make the catch. 

Release (8.5/10)

Pickens typically showed off his quickness. When pressed, his first step was up the field while fighting off the defender’s hands. Time after time, press at the line did not bother Pickens but rather put him in a position to make a play on the ball. While there may be some adjustment in the NFL, Pickens has the desired strength to keep defenders’ hands off of him and win at the line of scrimmage.

Run After the Catch (7/10)

He has shown the ability to beat one defender in space largely through misdirection. His length is a disadvantage after the run, as he gets chopped down quite easily. Defenders always went low against him, but this allowed Pickens to oftentimes extend the ball and pick up more yardage. Pickens will accelerate quickly to get upfield and gain extra yardage but does not beat defenders one on one with the ball in his hands often.

Vertical Speed (8.5/10)

Pickens should be a 4.4-speed athlete as he was able to maintain vertical positioning on quality NFL cornerbacks like Tennessee Titans’ Kristian Fulton. On vertical routes, Pickens has a good feel for stacking, which allows him to stay ahead of cornerbacks, or if all else fails then box them out. While he isn’t going to be a burner in the NFL, he has the effective vertical speed to win on a go route and to threaten deep routes. 

Burst/Acceleration (4.5/5)

In the 2021 Alabama game, Pickens showed effective burst and quickness despite coming off an ACL injury from the spring. The burst off the line of scrimmage is impressive and allows him to generate space while running routes. He has great burst giving him the edge, which gives him the advantage on in and out of breaking routes. 

Athleticism (5/5)

Pickens is a natural high-pointing athlete who has desirable speed with a long frame. His subtle quickness is somewhat underrated as he’s such a lengthy player. Pickens’ jumping ability is unmatched in his 6’3” body. His ability to get vertical paired with his length gives him the advantage on jump-balls. Pickens’ quickness, speed, vertical ability, and catching ability make him a threat on all levels of the field. 

Blocking (5/5)

An aggressive blocker who can make a run go from 15 yards to a long touchdown. Pickens sometimes overextends because he wants to drive the defender to the ground. At times, Pickens also lunges which can cause a holding penalty or easy block deconstruction for defenders. However, when he breaks down and uses proper blocking form, he is a really good blocker due to his length.  

Versatility (3.25/5)

Pickens has shown some versatility in the receiver positions with 59 snaps in the slot. However, his best role will be as an outside receiver as he is able to beat press coverage. He is not going to be a gadget player or someone who will be able to get carries, but someone who can play all wide receiver positions. 

Player Summary

In 2020, Georgia fans saw an ascending talent in Pickens. From 2019 to 2020, the levels of consistency, reliability in hands, route running, and highlight-reel plays all got better. While scouts did not see another level of progression from 2020 to 2021 with the injury, the level of play in the 2020 season was excellent and warrants high consideration in the 2021 NFL Draft.

With that said, Pickens demonstrated the ability to be a reliable chain-mover who can work through contact and make catches outside of his frame. Pickens is a lengthy player with a massive wingspan with similar traits as former Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green. Both of them have wiggle to their game despite being so long. As well, Pickens also showed the ability to create open throws by box defenders out and using quickness to throw off cornerbacks. He also showed his ability to correct poorly thrown passes and be a go-to target for any quarterback. 

Rookie Projection: Starting Outside Wide Receiver 

Third Year Projection: Top 20 Wide Receiver 

Final Grade (87/100): Late First Round 

Pro Comparison: A.J. Green

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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images


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