PFF thinks Steelers rookie wide receiver George Pickens could lead Pittsburgh in receiving yards this season.
Pickens was one of my pre-draft crushes. In a draft that wasn’t stuffed full of players with an obvious No. 1, X-receiver skill set, Pickens absolutely has that. He boasts the size, speed, body control and hands to be a spectacular receiver for Pittsburgh, and the Steelers have an impressive track record of not just drafting good receivers, but keeping ones with potential character or attitude issues on the rails. Even Antonio Brown lasted nine seasons in Pittsburgh before going through three teams in two years and winding up out of the league after he left. Diontae Johnson is the team’s incumbent No. 1 option, but it wouldn’t take much eating into his workload for Pickens to have a realistic shot at generating more yards over the season.
I think Pickens was one of the biggest steals of the draft. He was a first-round talent who fell to the second round based on his injury history and some off-field concerns.
But while I love Pickens’ potential, this feels like a bit of a stretch. Sure, I think he has what it takes to be a true No. 1 wide receiver in the NFL. And I think he’ll eventually play at a Pro-Bowl level for the Steelers.
Diontae Johnson, however, is the guy in Pittsburgh. And he showed last season that he’s on the verge of superstardom (one reason why he’s looking for a contract extension).
Predicting that Pickens will lead the Steelers in receiving yards would be discounting how important Johnson is to Pittsburgh’s success. In fact, it feels downright disrespectful to Johnson, a player that a lot of teams would absolutely love to have on their roster.
If PFF’s prediction comes true, it will likely be due to injuries that occurred throughout the season. That’s the only way I see Pickens leading the Steelers in receiving as a rookie.
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