The Steelers signed rookie receiver George Pickens, the second-round pick from the University of Georgia, to a four-year contract.
In three seasons, though, he finished with 90 receptions for 1,347 yards and 14 touchdowns. Pickens missed some playing time in the 2021 season after suffering a knee injury in the spring, playing in just four games and finishing with five receptions for 107 yards.
He loves the physical style of play the Steelers offense has and doesn't mind it one bit when he is called upon to block.
"They're real physical. That's really the biggest thing. Aggressiveness," said Pickens. "That's one of the biggest models of their game. That is really one of the bigger things in my game. I'm always physical. And I'm always finesse. You put those two together, you create a Steelers mentality like the receivers they already have now."
There are highlights of Pickens blocking all over social media, including one against Michigan where he takes down a defensive back. It's something he welcomes, an opportunity to make an impact when the ball isn't coming in his direction.
"To be honest with you it's a thrill," said Pickens. "When you're not catching the ball and you are out there, you don't have a route, it's a running play. The guy in front of you is the guy you're blocking. Blocking really ups it more to where you can make it fun and more entertaining. Kind of push them to the ground, go get the safety and move around the field faster."
Pickens is coming to a position where there was a lot of turnover this offseason, with JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington and Ray-Ray McCloud all leaving via free agency. He joins fellow receiver Calvin Austin III, who was selected in the fourth round, in adding depth and explosion to the group, and he feels his time playing at the University of Georgia in the SEC has him ready to go at the next level.
"The competitive level at Georgia and in the SEC is so high," said Pickens. "Half of the guys that were on the team last year were all drafted. I had 14 of my teammates just drafted. Practice every day was elite. Being in the SEC gets you the most prepared for this competition."