The Green Bay Packers own two picks in the first round (Nos. 22 and 28) of the 2022 NFL draft. In this “Packers draft profile” series, we will look at several options for Green Bay in the first round and dissect their collegiate careers, highlight reel and how they would fit with the team.
In this edition, we look at Georgia wide receiver George Pickens.
Pickens was a five-star recruit out of Hoover, Ala., and he originally committed to Auburn University before switching to the University of Georgia. The dynamic wideout had an instant impact in his freshman season.
The best year for Pickens in terms of production came in his freshman campaign when he hauled in 49 receptions for 727 yards and eight touchdowns.
In his sophomore season he was limited to just eight games but was still wildly productive as a constant downfield threat for Georgia.
Pickens suffered a torn ACL in March 2021 and as a result he played in just four games this past season as Georgia won the national championship. Still, there’s plenty to be optimistic about with Pickens given his frame and big-play ability.
NFL COMBINE RESULTS
40-yard dash: 4.47 seconds
Bench press: N/A
Vertical jump: 33 inches
Broad jump: 10 feet, 5 inches
3 cone drill: N/A
20-yard shuttle: N/A
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
“George Pickens is a very good athlete with downfield speed, agility, and body control. In the run game, he doesn’t provide much in terms of stalk blocking. Due to his wiry frame, he can be out-physicaled by stronger DBs who are defending the run. It’s in the passing game where he excels. He is sudden off the line of scrimmage and quickly closes the DB’s cushion. He is fluid and shows good body control as a route-runner, easily attacking leverage against man coverage. He has a very good catch radius and shows tremendous athleticism to contort his body and make difficult catches on off-target throws. He is a natural hands-catcher with strong mitts who easily catches the ball away from his body.” - The Draft Network.
“Lanky perimeter wideout with exciting ball skills but in desperate need of additional play strength and a clean bill of health. Resilient to make it back so quickly after an ACL tear, but needs to show quick-cutting ability for route-running. Pickens possesses borderline elite ball skills with in-air adjustments, strong hands and an enormous catch radius. However, he fails to put defenders on his hip and command the catch space to make his work less cluttered. The routes need more polish and physicality but he has the athletic ability to become a viable target on all three levels as a likely Day 2 draft pick with a little wider gap between ceiling and floor than NFL teams might like.” - Lance Zierlein, NFL.com
“Pickens has the ability to be a No. 2 outside-only wide receiver in the NFL. He has the size, ball skills and enough athleticism to be an X receiver who primarily runs a vertical route tree, which will also allow him to use his body strength and catching range. His size will translate into the red zone, and his blocking will be an asset right away. NFL teams will have to assess his medical history to see if Pickens recovers to his 2020 ability and athleticism. If he’s fully healthy and continues to add details to his route running, he will be a useful option for NFL offenses with some room to grow into a more featured role.” - Bleacher Report
HOW HE FITS
Green Bay is lacking any deep threat down the field with the current wide receivers on their roster. Pickens is not a sure-thing, Round 1 selection but he perhaps could immediately step into the role that Marquez Valdes-Scantling had when he started his career with the Packers as someone who is utilized to take the lid off the defense deep but also given time to find his footing in the league.
Clearly, the Packers need weapons at wide receiver and even could choose two in the first round. Pickens would be eyed more for the later, second selection.