Ex-Georgia receiver George Pickens met with Jaguars at Combine, could be a draft option
INDIANAPOLIS — It wasn't difficult to see why ex-Georgia standout George Pickens is one of the Jacksonville Jaguars' potential targets at wide receiver in next month's NFL Draft.
Pickens showed at the NFL Combine on Thursday night that he remains a speedster after tearing the ACL in his right knee during spring practice last year.
The injury limited Pickens to playing just four games during the Bulldogs' national championship season in 2021. He made just four catches for 107 yards during the season after having 88 catches for 1,286 yards and 14 touchdowns during his first two seasons at the school.
Upon his arrival at the Combine, though, Pickens boasted that he wanted to show that he is still the same guy the scouts see on film, and many people don't think he is that fast.
He sprinted like a track star in the 40-yard dash, blazing to the finish line in 4.40 seconds on his second attempt after getting clocked in 4.47 second during his first run.
If scouts had any doubts about his speed or full recovery from the ACL injury, they don't anymore.
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After averaging a franchise-low 14.9 points per game and having just 11 plays of 30-plus yards last season, the Jaguars have prioritized putting more playmakers on the field with speed for quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
Pickens said he met with the Jaguars on Monday night for a formal interview. But he also had meetings with the Jets, Steelers, Packers, Chiefs and 49ers.
''I know I can present a team what exactly a first-round pick is,'' Pickens said. ''My routes, speed, and intelligence of the game that a lot of people don't know that about me. I watch a lot of football.''
He's also a trash talker, confident in his ability, and not afraid to challenge defensive backs.
''I can play outside or in the slot,'' Pickens said. ''I'm definitely chatting. I like to talk trash, but I also like to show it like Richard Sherman, who talks trash but backs it up. I think if you put fear in a lot of people, you can force your will.''
The Jaguars led the NFL in dropped passes last season with 39 among their wide receivers, tight ends and running backs. A weakness that coach Doug Pederson hopes to get corrected this upcoming season.
The 2022 wide receivers class is one of the deepest in the draft. Thirteen receivers ran 4.4 or better in the 40-yard dash at the Combine. Because the talent is deep at wide receiver, Pickens could be still on the board when the Jaguars select 33rd overall, the first pick in the second round.
"Kind of a wildcard, it might be a little early there with that first pick, but George from who's had some injuries is really, really gifted,'' NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said. "To me I think — I kind of thought he'd be more back end of 2, but we'll see how he goes through the spring because that guy, he can really go up and get the football. He just has that ability to play above the rim and he's a pretty crisp route runner for somebody who's 6'3". He's an interesting one.''
With Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke saying earlier this week they would listen to offers for the No. 1 pick to possibly trade down, there's a chance the Jaguars could look to select a receiver in the mid to late first-round.
The top-rated receivers in the class include USC's Drake London, Ohio State's Garrett Wilson, Alabama's Jameson Williams, Alabama, Ohio State's Chris Olave and Arkanas' Treylon Burks.
Like Pickens, Williams also could be available when the Jaguars select at 33rd in the second round. Williams tore his ACL in the national championship game against Georgia. If the injury had not occurred, Williams probably would have been a top-15 pick.
"There’s a lot of good football players in this draft and I think there’s going to be good football players to be gotten through every round,'' Baalke said. "'Some are going
to need more development than others obviously. As you look back at this draft three years from now, I think it is going to be a pretty positive outcome for a lot of these young men.”