Steelers WR George Pickens considered the highest-rated rookie in the PFF in pre-season action on Saturday

With only one game left in the first week of the NFL preparatory season, all but two teams now watched the rookies play on podiums. According to Pro Football Focus, the highest-rated player to date is none other than George Pickens’ pick in the second round of the Pittsburgh Stiller.

According to Pro Football Focus, Pickens is graded at 91.2, which constitutes the performance of the “elite” category. For context, Las Vegas Raiders receiver Davante Adams had a score of 92.7 in the 2021 season.

As was the case from the pre-draft operation to training camp, Pickens made no secret of his words regarding his confidence in his abilities. Aside from playing as a receiver, Pickens also had several impressive running blocks, proving that he is not shy about his physique.

“Yeah, dude,” Pickens stated in the team’s post-game transcript when asked if a simulation of his performance at his training camp at Acresor Stadium had been validated. “Just to get the character of the game. That really is the most important part. I have been doing the same thing I have been doing in practice.”

On 21 shots, Pickens saw five goals and picked up three passes for 43 yards and a touchdown. In doing so, he earned passes from quarterbacks Mitchell Trubesky and Mason Rudolph. Pickens was pulled from the game after a few driving times, which is unusual for a starter in the second round in pre-season, and perhaps also speaks to the team’s confidence in him. His performance was marked by a 26-yard touchdown from Rudolph, as he beat Seahawks rookie quarterback Kobe Bryant for a toe touchdown.

“Far from modifying my body,” Pickens said when asked about landing. “I saw how I landed, and I thought my feet were dead, and I was made.”

For context, this PFF rating is based on 21 takers against a pre-season lineup and does not necessarily mean that he will play like a Top 3 recipient next season. However, to say the least, it was hard to encourage Pickens to emulate his top-tier boot camp performance in the pads.

“That’s what I expect,” Pickens said when asked if he was surprised by his impressive performance. “That’s what I’ve been telling people at Combine. The kind of player I am. The kind of dude I am. Instead of getting away with analytics, I wanted to show people that I really could play.”

In fact, this pre-season opening was the junior future’s first chance for Pickens to prove that his bootcamp performance is no fluke, and it’s safe to say he has done so thus far.

At this point, it’s hard not to be excited about Pickens, as well as the Steelers’ receipt of the core as a whole. The Steelers will have both Pickens and the recently re-signed receiver Deont Johnson for several seasons to come with no current lack of depth behind the two. Paired with a tight sophomore year end Pat Freymouth and back-to-back Nagy Harris, whoever starts in the middle will have no shortage of guns this coming season.

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