No breaking news here; the Georgia Bulldogs are a very entertaining college football team. Playing in the SEC, the Bulldogs showcase their talents against the best defensive conference in the NCAA. Often scouted for their running backs, Georgia hasn’t had an NFL-level talent at wide receiver since AJ Green. That is until George Pickens took his talents to Athens.
Who is George Pickens?
A 20-year-old from Hoover, Alabama, Pickens was a 5-star recruit for Georgia. At 6’3″ and 200 pounds, Pickens is not slight of frame but possesses the size to go up still and get a contested jump ball. His run blocking can be improved, but his football IQ helps his team in the run game. Not gonna smoke anybody off the line of scrimmage, but savvy enough to separate from defenders. With a skill set that reminds me of the former Eagles receiver, Jeremy Maclin, Pickens will settle in very nicely as a PPR machine on our fantasy teams.
Watching the tape provided on DynastyNerds.com, I walked away with many observations. In a run-first scheme, Pickens isn’t currently being used as a target hog. When called upon, he will use his body and throw caution to the wind. Reminiscent of Mike Williams, Pickens will use his elite ball tracking and use his entire range to secure the catch at all costs. Possibly the best part of his game is his ability to turn into the catch. The timing of his jump and spin to continue the run after the catch is exceptional. It’s this ability combined with his nack for ripping zone schemes apart that will make Pickens a well-known force to reckon with at the next level.
Freshman year for Pickens, he would fail to break 100 yards or 10 receptions in the regular season. It wasn’t until the Sugar Bowl that hosted #5 Georgia versus #8 Baylor that Pickens would shine. With 12 receptions, 175 yards, and a touchdown, Pickens would be the backbone of the 26-14 win for the Georgia Bulldogs. That night, the spotlight was on George and would have the Devy community in love with him entering the offseason.
In a Covid shortened sophomore season, Pickens would fail to get rolling out the gates. It wasn’t until the season’s final two games that Pickens would end the season with back-to-back 100-yard games; 126 and 135.
This past March, during spring practice, Pickens tore his ACL and had immediate surgery. In an article done with SI.com by Brooks Austin, Head Coach Kirby Smart stated George has been doing straight-line running. Even Smart admits Pickens is a ways away. He went on to praise the head athletic trainer. In the past, NFL talents like Todd Gurley II and Nick Chubb had ACL reconstructive surgery and rehabbed with the Georgia medical team.
2021 Season Outlook and Beyond
Leaning on veteran JT Daniels but a decimated receiver core, the Bulldogs will lean on the run game. In my opinion, the best running back duo in college football, Zamir White (junior) and Kendall Minton (sophomore), will shoulder the load.
We shouldn’t be holding Pickens’s involvement in the offense against him. Even if he gets back in 2021, we won’t see him until the tail end of the season. The numbers will not make an argument for George Pickens by the time he declares for the NFL, but I’m willing to bet that he is a first round draft pick in 2022.