Steelers’ Chase Claypool Names Former SEC Standout as ‘Best Rookie Receiver’ Entering Season

by Nick Geddes

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool sees immediate success in the future for rookie teammate George Pickens.

Chase Claypool doesn’t seem to care that Pickens was the 11th receiver taken in the 2022 NFL Draft and given how Pickens has looked in the first few days of training camp, he’s anything like what his draft spot indicates he is.

He’s been that good.

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

George Pickens is Looking to Carve Out a Role Alongside Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson

George Pickens, 21, has been a standout thus far through camp, already featuring on the first-team offense and routinely coming down with tough grabs. His talents were on display again Friday, as well as his chemistry with Steelers quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.

If not for an ill-timed injury ahead of his junior season in 2021, George Pickens could have been the top-receiver off the board in April. In his first two seasons with the Georgia Bulldogs, Pickens hauled in 83 receptions for 1,240 yards and 14 touchdowns.

But then Pickens tore his ACL during spring practice. He missed the majority of Georgia’s national championship-winning campaign, but remarkably made it back eight months after suffering the injury. He would appear in four games, catching just five passes for 107 yards.

George Pickens is now ready to be productive again, and alongside fellow rookie receiver Calvin Austin III, battle for opportunity. Austin III, a fourth-round selection out of Memphis, has also been impressive to head coach Mike Tomlin.

“They’re doing a really good job and they’re getting an opportunity to get some reps,” Tomlin said Thursday, via Dave Schofield of SB Nation. “There are some mistakes, but that’s part of the process. Do they not make the same mistake twice? How did they learn from those mistakes? When they’re less than certain, do they still play at full speed?

“I think those are certain things you look for in the wide receiver position, and they’re getting an opportunity to learn those lessons and display their skills.”