In our Scouting Reports, we will give you a quick debrief to get you the information you need to know. We’ll also take it a step further and provide an in-depth review showing off examples of what we like, and what we don’t. Included is a date from the initial scouting report, this is so new notes can be added as the year goes on. Those new notes will be dated as well. With that, welcome to the George Pickens scouting report!
Today, we’re looking at stud Georgia WR, George Pickens. Pickens is just one of the WRs to suffer injury, adding volatility to their draft stock. Injury aside, Pickens is one of, if not the most talented receiver in this class.
Details: George Pickens | WR | Georgia #1
DOB: 03.04.2001 | 20 years old
H/W: 6’3” | 200 lbs
NFL Draft Projection:
Top 15 pick – In my eyes, Pickens is the most talented WR in this class. Further, I believe Pickens is the only ’22 eligible receiver who belongs in the same conversation as the phenomenal talents who have come out in years past. Obviously the torn ACL and surgery early this year pumps the brakes for some. However, on talent alone, Pickens is worthy of a top 10 pick. If he comes back to finish the season and even grazes his pre-injury look, GMs would be silly to let him slide past 15, even with the defensive talent in this class.
Dynasty Rookie Draft Projection – 1QB:
Top 3 pick – RBs tend to cruise to the top of draft boards as rookie drafts near. However, the elite WRs can typically squeeze their way toward the front of the line too. With a somewhat soft RB class (relative to recent years), it will allow one or two of the top receivers to get taken early. I think Pickens will be one such wide out.
Dynasty Rookie Draft Projection – Superflex/2QB:
Top 6 pick – It’s inevitable in 2QB/SF leagues that QBs will end up at the top. It’s my belief that 3 QBs will have the talent and NFL Draft pedigree to end-up as the likely top 3 picks, which means early/mid 1st round picks will have their pick of the top RB/WRs. I see Pickens winding up around pick 4-6 in this scenario.
Pickens fits the old-school, classic mold of what a #1 – traditionally an X or Split End – looks like. He’s big, 6’3″ and 200 lbs. He’s fast enough to be a deep threat. He’s got great vertical ability, and he has violent hands to win at the catch point.
Nowadays, we know a #1 WR can come in all shapes and sizes, can win in a multitude of different ways, and can do it from any number of alignments, splits, and formations. With that said, there will always be a place for a receiver who can line up solo on the boundary-side, multiple defenders accounting for him, and still consistently come down with the ball in his hands for a big gain.
Pickens shows genuinely phenomenal body control throughout the route and at the catch point. He consistently shows excellent spatial awareness of the boundary and of the defender. He adds great concentration, and extremely strong, reliable hands. His length and catch radius, combined with his timing and ability to high-point makes him a threat to “Moss” anybody, anytime.
It’s not just his physical gifts. Pickens also shows up against zone. Time-and-time again, he finds a soft spot and gives his QB an easy throw. Just to take it a step further, he occasionally shows greatness when running routes. Whether living in a DBs blind spot in a route, or throwing perfectly timed swipes to stay clean from a jam, Pickens shows multiple technical skills to beat DBs too. There are times when Pickens makes the game look too easy.
Pickens has areas where he can grow, or put differently, he has issues he can work on. Too often he doesn’t need to win with technique, just dominating with physicality and athletic ability. That physicality can get him in trouble. He’s not immune to drawing an offensive pass interference, or worse. Continued improvement in technique – especially at the contact point in his release – can lessen his reliance on his physical gifts to help him to avoid this added risk.
Our first clip doesn’t need a ton of review. Here, we see Pickens make just a tiny adjustment to his route – just a half-step to the outside – in order to slide into the DBs blind spot.
Just before the break, Pickens snuggles in nice-and-tight directly behind the DB in order to hide his movement. This will maximize the time and space he has to make this catch.
The throw is in a spot only Pickens could grab it, down-and-away. Pickens shows great control to sink down, make the catch away from his body, shield the catch point from the DB, and still have the balance to turn upfield for another yard before getting pushed out of bounds.
Next let’s see how Pickens handles soft press. DBs use a “soft” press to stay tight to the receiver, while allowing them to read the initial steps to determine how to play the route.
Pickens attacks this by darting at the outside shoulder, selling a fade. The DB naturally opens to the outside and tries to get a hand on Pickens.
Where Pickens really wins this route is with a perfectly timed swipe, forcing the DBs hand and hips to open further outside.
Pickens sells another burst upfield, now from inside/behind the DB. This forces the DB to turn and run with his back to the route. Pickens again gets cozy in the DBs blind spot. Meanwhile, the DB keeps heading upfield to defend the phantom vertical route.
By the time the DB turns back to Pickens, he’s given up 6-7 yards of cushion, making for an easy catch and run. Pickens spins out of the first tackle and gains enough for the 1st down.
Pickens runs a great route from release to reception, and beats Josh Jobe (DB #28 ‘Bama) – likely an NFL-bound Corner – like a drum.
Next we get to see Pickens beating a good jam by Alontae Taylor (DB #2 Tennessee), also likely to be on an NFL roster soon. Pickens again attacks the hands with perfect timing to keep himself clean from the initial jam. Then holds his line while the DB re-establishes hands, and tries to push him to the sideline.
Working their way up the field, Pickens looks back to the QB and gets his inside hand on the back of the DBs shoulder. When the DB turns to look for the ball, Pickens uses that hand to push the DB upfield (throw-by technique), clearing a lane for the ball.
The DBs right hand manages to catch Pickens arm, preventing Pickens from catching this away from his body with his hands. Instead, the ball strikes Pickens right in the gut and squeezes out low.
While both he and the ball are falling, Pickens manages to secure the catch when the ball is at ankle level. Somehow he was able to do this while staying and landing inbounds. He even rolls away from the DB to secure the ball after the reception. Great catch.
One of the common themes we continue to see with Pickens is the ability to make great catches with outstanding body control. To this point, none have really been “contested” catches – the last one was difficult-bordering-impossible – but none really contested. Seeing how Pickens is consistently able to create space at the catch point, that’s not a huge surprise.
With that said, Pickens is absolutely able to make these same outstanding catches even in contested situations. Our next video shows Pickens getting absolutely mugged in the endzone by Emmanuel Forbes (DB #13 Miss St.), another very solid corner NFL bound in a couple years (with a very high draft pedigree if he keeps up the pace he’s on).
The DB gets a good tug on Pickens’ jersey during his break – maybe a little push too – and rides his hip as Pickens tumbles to the ground. That doesn’t stop Pickens from making this extremely difficult catch though. Even while draped by a defender, falling, and halfway horizontal, Pickens reels it in.
We’ll see it from a few angles in the video below.
Pickens regularly makes extremely difficult catches look… well they still look difficult, but he comes down with them much more often than not. Let’s take a look at another one here.
From what we can see on camera, there’s not anything special about the route. Pickens is given the outside release, he uses his speed to get a step on the DB, and he has to slow his route to make a play on an underthrown ball.
I’ve got to say, for a guy who might only run a 4.5, Pickens gets a step on defenders a lot. It’s not very often you’ll see him downfield with a DB tight to his hip pocket. He regularly does well to get vertical leverage and stack the DB.
In any case, this ball is underthrown considering Pickens had a step on the DB. This means Pickens has to sacrifice the leverage he gained, get vertical, and go pluck this ball from the air. We can see he times his jump perfectly to snatch the ball above the DBs head as the DB struggles to hit the brakes.
The DB, despite not getting his head around for the ball, is able to swat the ball, Pickens hands and arms a couple times as Pickens comes down for a landing. The DBs hand prevents Pickens from being able to tuck and secure the ball, so he’s relying completely on the strength of his hands to hold onto this pass.
There’s nothing special about this route. The DB is in his backpedal before the snap, and Pickens takes an easy outside speed release. What’s special is the catch.
People always talk about “Mossing” the DB. The way I see it, this requires five distinct skills. High point. Concentration. Strong hands. Body control. Finally, toughness.
Pickens comes stocked chalk-full of each of these skills. Here we’re going to see him go to work against a new Mizzou DB…but similar result to last time. Pickens high-points the ball and makes the catch with the DB in his grill. He holds onto it with phenomenally strong hands, despite the DBs best efforts to knock it away.
He works his way down, understands where he is on the field and – more importantly – where to go to get to the endzone, and has the wherewithal to immediately get after it.
Pickens’ concentration is apparent on all of these catches, this next one is no different. Same game, this pass goes for a long touchdown reception though.
When Pickens comes on screen, we can see he’s got two full steps on the DB. The ball is so underthrown, and so high in the air, that there’s enough time for the DB to slow himself by running into Pickens, stick his hand up – catching Pickens’ helmet – and even stick his arm into Pickens’ frame all before the ball even comes down.
Pickens watches the ball all the way into his hands, and catches it when it’s coming down and only knee-high. He maintains possession as he hits the ground and rolls to secure the touchdown. Another great catch.
Not to sound like a broken record, but here we’ve got more of the same; another phenomenal catch. At least this time the ball wasn’t underthrown!
Off the snap we see the corner who lines up on Pickens blitzes off the edge, leaving a Safety to cover Pickens in the deep part of the field. Whether Pickens caused it or not can’t be seen with this camera angle, but one way or another this DB gets burned out of his shoe, literally.
Seriously though, the concentration and sticky hands to come away with this diving, over-the-shoulder catch just continues to show that Pickens is a different breed. Kids, don’t try this at home.
Continuing with our theme of “here’s what good WRs can do”, here we see Pickens able to come back and make a tough catch. The QB was hit as he threw, so the ball came out low and wobbly. Pickens is able to adjust his route, dive forward and secure the reception to convert this clutch 4th and 5 in the Peach Bowl.
It’s not just the catch, however. You can see before the catch he’s running through the space between zones. Time and again we see Pickens abusing zone coverage. He adjusts his route and his speed to glide in between zones, stay in the soft spot, and give his QB an easy throw.
Even having to cut off his route and make a play on the ball, nobody was within 4-5 yards of him. If the throw had been on-time and accurate, Pickens might still be running.
Pickens also takes steps to create advantages against zone coverage frequently. In our next clip, we see him score between two hook zone defenders, and under the deep safety.
First, see how Pickens aligns right at the bottom of the numbers. As he gets into his route, you can see he starts drifting wide, and is a yard below the bottom of the numbers by the time he breaks. Pickens widens out to get the near hook defender to widen with him, creating additional space for the throwing lane.
From there, Pickens breaks shallow enough to prevent the deep safety from making a play on the ball, and slows his route after the break to maximize time in the lane.
Now, that hook defender may not have been able to affect the play either way. It’s always better to create as much space as possible anyways, to make the throw and catch as easy as possible.
Next up, just a simple pivot route. Pickens isn’t even really guarded here, but note his awareness of the linebacker, the sideline, and the sticks.
Pickens breaks to the outside. He comes back a little when he sees the defender creeping toward him, sacrificing depth but making sure to maintain space.
He, again, shows nice hands to snatch this ball from the air, then immediately turns upfield to secure the first down. Simple chain mover, but good awareness of his surroundings makes it look easy.
It’s clear Pickens shows elite hands – soft at the catch point, strong after – as well as phenomenal concentration, body control, and spatial awareness. Additionally, Pickens has an outstanding ability to high-point, combined with his monster wingspan, his catch radius is just ridiculous.
Pickens isn’t the best route runner in this class, but that’s not to say he’s bad. Pickens is still an excellent route runner, he just too often leans on his physical gifts.
Well we can add one more to the list of positives, not nearly as important for WRs, but helpful for the team nonetheless. Pickens is a very good run blocker. He does well to control the defender, and always works to get a good angle. He also shows good strength. Here he is pushing a DB back 7+ yards.
My take, if I haven’t made it clear, is that Pickens is the best WR in this class. Few others can consistently align on the line of scrimmage boundary-side, with the short field, have multiple defenders keyed in on them, and – with less space than a slot or field-side receiver would have – still dominate in a way that Pickens does.
Few others have the combination of skills Pickens has. Want to know the scary part? He can still get better as he refines and gets more technical in his routes. Pickens is the receiver most likely to live up to the extremely high standards set by draft classes before him.
Former LSU teammates, Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase have tore up the league the past two years in a way few players have ever done before. Other receivers like Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb, DeVonta Smith, and more have extremely lofty expectations that are entirely feasible to meet given their talent.
Pickens has a chance to stand with any of these receivers, Jefferson and Chase included, regardless of the team he lands on or the situation therein.
How do you feel about George Pickens? There’s a number of WRs who have potential for that top spot – where does Pickens rank for you? Drop a comment in the comment box below to let us know your thoughts!
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