Georgia football may see George Pickens take home Offensive Rookie of the Year

George Pickens celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the first half of the Peach BowlImage credit: Joshua L. Jones-USA TODAY NETWORK/Athens Banner-Herald
George Pickens celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the first half of the Peach BowlImage credit: Joshua L. Jones-USA TODAY NETWORK/Athens Banner-Herald /

Former Georgia football star wide receiver George Pickens has created a lot of buzz since being drafted back in April. Could the Offensive Rookie of the Year award be in his sights?

The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Pickens in the second round with pick No. 52, making him the No.11 receiver to come off the board. His slide down the draft boards resulted from looming questions surrounding his health and narratives fueled by social media regarding off-the-field issues.

Pickens was easily one of the top receiver prospects from a talent standpoint, and general managers will be kicking themselves for passing on him soon enough. With the flashes he’s shown in training camp and the preseason, it looks like he is ready to take the league by storm.

Highlight plays have been a regular occurrence for Pickens throughout training camp and have continued into the preseason. Multiple clips have gone viral on Twitter, from a toe-tapping touchdown to manhandling a defensive back on a block like he did many times at Georgia.

Former Georgia football receiver George Pickens could win Offensive Rookie of the Year.

These types of plays, coupled with his unique personality, have quickly made him a fan favorite for fans of all teams.

Despite this, Pickens only has the 14th best odds to win the award, sitting at +2000 currently. It’s understandable for him not to be the odds-on favorite for the award, but not for him to still be sitting that low.

A few players will have a better chance to win based on the team situation they got drafted into, but it should be a wide-open race. However, some players have better chances because of their quarterbacks and offenses.

Skyy Moore fell into a great situation in Kansas City with the Chiefs having already traded away Tyreek Hill. He will have the opportunity to become the primary wide receiver target for quarterback Patrick Mahomes in a high-flying offensive system.

The trade of AJ Brown opens up an immense amount of production potential. Treylon Burks could step right in as the top wide receiver for the Tennessee Titans.

Burks could have a massive rookie season with his main target competition being a 30-year-old Robert Woods coming off of an ACL tear.

The biggest competition Pickens will have for the award will likely be Jets’ running back Breece Hall. He will slot in as the primary ball carrier and possesses the potential to become a top back in the league instantly. If the Jets’ offense improves as it has been predicted to, Hall has the potential to run away with the award.

While Pickens is already expected to be one of the top wideouts in Pittsburgh, he will be sharing targets with another talented receiver in Diontae Johnson. The latter tied for the fifth most receptions in the NFL in 2021. Additionally, Najee Harris led the NFL in receptions by a running back.

Target competition like this can both help and hurt Pickens’ production. Lining up alongside an elite receiver will prevent defenses from being able to key in on Pickens, freeing him up for more targets. The downside is that he will have two well-established targets to contend with for those targets.

Another unfortunate reality for Pickens lies within the quarterback situation. After the retirement of veteran Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers brought in former Chicago Bears starter Mitchell Trubisky and drafted Kenny Pickett in the first round.

Trubisky is an average starter and will likely serve as nothing more than a bridge quarterback to allow Pickett to develop. Either way, the immediate outlook is not ideal for Pickens’ chances to win OROY.

If Pickett becomes the starter and plays well enough to allow Pickens to produce, the award will likely go to the quarterback, as is usually the case. At the same time, the most recent award went to wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase of the Cincinnati Bengals, the most recent receiver to win it before Pickens was Odell Beckham Jr. in 2014.

Both of those receivers accounted for over 1,300 yards and 12 touchdowns. That would be a pretty high bar for Pickens to reach as a rookie, especially with heavy target competition in an offense that may or may not be very productive. Still, he has the skill set to step in and immediately contribute like a WR1 if given the opportunity.

If Pickens can eclipse 1,100 receiving yards and reel in eight or more touchdowns, he could put himself in a great position to be considered for the award. These numbers are considerably steep given his situation in Pittsburgh, but it’s hard to count out a receiver with that talent.

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Regardless of awards or accolades, though, Pickens looks ready to begin a successful NFL career with the potential to become one of the top options at his position.