Pittsburgh Steelers Wide Receiver Diontae Johnson Delivers Praise to Former Georgia Standout George Pickens

by Nick Geddes

The George Pickens bandwagon is still accepting riders, although it’s getting a bit crowded. The Pittsburgh Steelers rookie wide receiver is dripping with hype, with teammate and fellow receiver Diontae Johnson only adding to it.

Pickens made his debut in Pittsburgh’s first preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks Saturday and played as well as advertised. Pickens hauled in three catches for 43 yards, including a 26-yard toe-tapping touchdown reception from quarterback Mason Rudolph.

Freak is the word Johnson used to describe Pickens after practice Monday.

“He’s a freak, that’s what he is,” Johnson said, via SI’s All Steelers. “He’s a freak. That’s a special talent. You can’t teach some of the things he does. I just be watching like, man, I be amazed at how he catches the ball sometimes. He’s young. He’s getting better on the daily.”

The George Pickens Praise is Nothing New

The Pickens hype started as soon as training camp began weeks ago and hasn’t let up since. After seeing him practice for just a few days, fellow receiver Chase Claypool already knew Pickens was special.

“I think he’s gonna be the best rookie receiver in the NFL,” Claypool said, via Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

George Pickens, 21, had the talent to be a first-round selection in the 2022 NFL Draft. An ill-timed injury during his junior season in 2021, however, derailed his collegiate career at Georgia. He missed the majority of the Bulldogs’ national championship-winning campaign after tearing his ACL in spring practice. He returned in eight months and appeared in four games.

Injury concerns led to Pickens being the 11th receiver off the board in April. The Steelers finally selected him 52nd overall in the second-round. George Pickens appears to be on the trajectory to stardom — now it’s just a matter of knowing who will be throwing him the football come Week 1.

Mitchell Trubisky started the preseason tilt against Seattle, but it was first-round pick Kenny Pickett who arguably made the biggest mark. Pickett finished 13-of-15 for 95 yards and two touchdowns. He orchestrated Pittsburgh’s game-winning drive, capping it off with a 24-yard touchdown pass to receiver Tyler Vaughns with three seconds remaining.

Pickett, who had been taking third-team reps throughout camp, reportedly got work with the first-team during a two-minute drill Tuesday.