WIDE RECEIVER, GEORGIA, ELIGIBLE FOR 2022 NFL DRAFT
George Pickens is a 6’3” and 200 lbs. five-star wide receiver for the Georgia Bulldogs. He was the WR4 and 24th overall prospect from the 2022 class.
PAST PRODUCTION (COLLEGE STATS)
In his true freshman season, Pickens caught 37 passes for 552 yards and seven TDs. Within the context of the Georgia offense, he accounted for 19.2% of their receiving yardage and 30.4% of their receiving scoring. This equates to a 24.8% dominator rating and a 21.5% adjusted dominator rating. Pickens also averaged 1.43 yards per team pass attempt. While these figures do not surpass the 25% dominator rating threshold for a true breakout, within the context of the season one could argue that he did break out.
The 2019 Georgia passing attack led by Jake Fromm could be best described as anemic. With only 2,860 passing yards from the starting quarterback, it makes sense why a freshman would have trouble reaching impressive counting stats. With Jake Fromm drafted in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL draft we expected Georgia to have a much stronger passing attack in 2020 as the program landed not one, but two starting quarterbacks in the transfer portal. We believed that Jamie Newman and JT Daniels would be a true quarterback competition with a much-improved offense.
Pickens only had four games this season with a starting-caliber quarterback as the Bulldogs had to start the season with Stetson Bennett and his 57% completion percentage. In Bennett’s first four starts, he had only linked up with Pickens on 13 passes, for just 140 yards and two TDs. Pickens ended the season with 36 catches for 513 yards and six TDs. While he did achieve a second-year breakout as a sophomore, he did so heavily fueled by touchdown production as he was otherwise out-produced by Kearis Jackson. Pickens is looking forward to a full season in 2021 with JT Daniels returning. However, it is unclear if Pickens can put together a full season of production as he has only surpassed 100-yards receiving in 15% of his games played thus far in his career.
Pickens has the physical tools to be an alpha NFL wide receiver. However, this will be his true test in 2021 to compare if he is going to project as a first-round NFL talent, or just another big-bodied receiver who only wins red-zone contested targets. Outside of three games, Pickens has not lived up to the fourth-ranked receiver in the class. His range of possible outcomes is volatile.
Historically, despite Georgia being one of the best-recruiting programs in college football, they have seldom produced NFL-ready wide receivers. The only fantasy-relevant wide receivers to come from Georgia have been A.J. Green and Hines Ward. I believe that Pickens can be successful in 2021 and recoup some of the value lost due to his poor 2020 season. To be successful, Pickens will rely on a healthy and productive season from JT Daniels, as 2021 will arguably be Picken’s first full season with a good quarterback.
What’s the outlook for the next 3-5 years?
After an amazing 12-catch game against Baylor in the Sugar Bowl to close out the 2019 season, Pickens was the hottest young receiver in devy. He amassed 175 yards and one TD, and everyone was excited to see him take the next step as a sophomore. While 2020 was a very disappointing year for Pickens, he did close with three solid performances in the final four games as he developed chemistry with Daniels.
If we extrapolate the final four games Pickens played with Daniels to a full 13-game season for 2021, Picken’s stat line would be 75 catches for 1,200 yards and 12 TDs. This would be strong enough to get him back into first-round consideration. As a note, four games is too small of a sample size to extrapolate a figure that we would consider likely to happen.
George Pickens is currently being drafted as the seventh overall player in Superflex formats according to our friends at Devy Watch. With this high acquisition cost, I would be looking to sell Pickens if I roster him anywhere, or select a different player in that range. Picken’s biggest cause for concern is his lack of long speed. In high school, Pickens ran just a 4.73-second 40-yard dash, and nothing based on his game speed has indicated that his testing numbers will considerably improve. While I’m rooting for Pickens to find success and become the third great Georgia wide receiver product, I am not investing heavily in him. Productive, but slow, big-bodied wide receivers who have trouble separating can have high perceived value in devy and then have their value completely fall out from under them. Pickens fits this bill and needs to have an amazing 2021 season to not be considered the next Kelvin Harmon.
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