Expected to be one of the top wide receivers in the 2022 NFL Draft class just a couple of months ago, George Pickens’ current outlook is far from clear. The Georgia WR suffered a torn ACL during spring practice, and at present, it’s unclear when he’ll see the field again. As such, he may not even declare for the draft next year. However, if he does, what does his scouting report from the first two years of his career tell us about where he could stack up in another impressive class?
George Pickens NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Wide Receiver
- School: Georgia
- Current Year: Junior
- Height: 6’3″
- Weight: 200 pounds
George Pickens Scouting Report
While question marks are hanging over Pickens ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft, it’s easy to see why some NFL teams have been interested in him since his freshman campaign. The Georgia WR’s scouting report contains plenty to love about his ability to play the position.
It starts with size. At 6’3″ and 200 pounds, Pickens has the ideal frame to be an impactful wide receiver in the NFL. In addition to his height, the Georgia WR also possesses impressive length, allowing him to high point the ball. Furthermore, his combination of height, length, and athleticism have allowed him to pull off some incredible diving catches.
Pickens plays the game with an intense physicality that, combined with the above attributes, makes him a contested-catch monster. The Bulldog also has an impressive catch radius and exceptional ball-tracking skills. As a result, there’s rarely such thing as an uncatchable pass when it’s anywhere remotely in his vicinity.
In addition to his catching ability, Pickens displays solid athleticism as a route runner. He can get in and out of his breaks with an impressive suddenness. Meanwhile, he demonstrates stellar top-end speed. The Georgia WR has the physicality to come across the middle on underneath routes. Once he has the ball in his possession, he isn’t easy to take down.
Areas for improvement
The most significant question mark on Pickens’ scouting report right now is his health. Once upon a time, an ACL tear in spring camp would see you done for the entire season. Now, there is the potential for him to return within eight months. However, if he doesn’t return in that timescale, I believe it would be advantageous to return for another season.
Pickens needs to exhibit to NFL teams that he is fully healed and ready for live action.
During his two-year career, Pickens has been guilty of dubious decision-making in several incidents. In 2019, he was suspended by the program for the first half against Georgia Tech due to a violation of team rules. When he made it to the field, he was ejected for throwing punches at Tre Swilling. Last season, he drew an unsportsmanlike penalty against Tennessee.
Pickens was branded “selfish” and “undisciplined” by his head coach following the Georgia Tech incident. Those are two attributes that won’t endear him to NFL teams and coaches, and it could ultimately see red flags raised against his name.
George Pickens Player Profile
Pickens has been considered one of the top pass catchers across the high school and college arena over the past five years. His journey to the 2022 NFL Draft began as a prolific wide receiver at Hoover High School in Alabama. The rangy pass catcher started to earn serious recruiting attention following a sophomore season where he helped Hoover to an AHSAA Class 7A state title.
A five-star prospect, Pickens was the fourth-best receiver in the class and the best player in Alabama. Furthermore, he was a top-25 player nationally. Amongst national interest, the highly regarded pass catcher made an early commitment to in-state Auburn in July 2017. Another productive campaign as a junior only elevated interest, as did an MVP performance in the 2018 Alabama/Mississippi All-Star Game.
Georgia was one of the programs that offered a scholarship to the young wide receiver following his 2017 campaign. Yet, he remained committed to Auburn heading into a senior season where he secured 69 catches, 1,368 receiving yards, and 16 touchdowns.
Pickens earns awards and eschews Auburn
Pickens’ performances earned him first-team All-USA and All-Alabama honors, in addition to being named as a finalist for the ASWA Class 7A Player of the Year Award.
The early signing period came and went, and Pickens hadn’t signed his national letter of intent with Auburn. Following a disappointing season for the program, the prolific wide receiver was leaving his options open. As National Signing Day arrived, Pickens dropped one of the biggest bombshells in the class, flipping his commitment to Georgia. It came as a surprise to most, but not Georgia head coach Kirby Smart.
“He knew what style of offense he wanted to play in. He saw an opportunity when he saw two guys declare for the draft in [Mecole] Hardman and Riley [Ridley]. There were a lot of touches there available, and I know he wanted to have an opportunity to play with a quarterback like Jake Fromm.”
Pickens’ career at Georgia
Pickens wasted no time in taking advantage of those opportunities in the Georgia WR room. The young pass catcher secured a touchdown on his debut against Murray State, adding 78 yards at 19.5 yards per catch. By mid-October, he’d earned his first start against Kentucky, and by early November, he logged his first multi-touchdown game with 2 scores against Missouri.
The Alabama native secured a touchdown in each of the final four games of the season. Pickens finished the year in style with a dominant 175 yards from 12 receptions — both career highs — in the Sugar Bowl win over Baylor. He was named MVP to go along with All-SEC Freshman recognition. Having led the team in receiving yards (727) and touchdowns (8), he was also named the co-winner of the team’s Offensive Newcomer of the Year Award.
Pickens headed into 2020 on a wave of expectation
The Georgia product was named to the second-team Preseason All-SEC unit while earning Biletnikoff watchlist recognition. However, as the offense struggled to find its identity in the early part of the year, Perkins had difficulties producing to his new expectations.
With the transition to J.T. Daniels at quarterback, Pickens was rejuvenated over the final four games of the year. Against Mississippi State, the sophomore pass catcher snagged a season-high 8 receptions, turning them into 87 yards. Although there was a lull against South Carolina, Pickens finished the year with consecutive 100+ yard games. He once again terrorized Missouri, scoring another 2 touchdowns. In the Peach Bowl win over Cincinnati, he averaged 19.3 yards per catch on his way to a 135-yard night.
His spring ACL tear has deprived college football of one of its best receivers for the upcoming season. Moreover, Pickens 2022 NFL Draft stock hangs in limbo with no certainty over whether he’ll play this fall. Once considered a potential first-round pass catcher, it’s too early to make any projections as to where he’ll land or even if he’ll declare at all.
Tony Pauline’s scouting report for George Pickens
Positives: Tall, very quick receiver who fires off the snap, immediately gets into pass routes, and nicely uses his hands to separate from defenders. Tracks the pass in the air, displays eye/hand coordination, and makes the reception in stride at full speed. Possesses strong hands and snatches the ball out of the air. Plays faster than his 40 time and presents himself as an effective vertical threat.
Negatives: Lacks a true second gear. Occasionally lets the ball get inside him. Possesses a thin frame, lacks strength, and is easily brought down after the catch. Coming off an injury-riddled season.
Analysis: Pickens made an instant impact as a freshman for Georgia and was poised for a big junior campaign before tearing a knee ligament in the spring of 2021. He returned late in the season with minimal impact, but Pickens is a legitimate third wideout for an NFL team once he gets back to full health.