Georgia wide receiver George Pickens has surfaced as a Lions’ first-round pick in a couple recent mock drafts, but would he actually be a great fit?
At 0-7 and with an inside track at a top-five pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions will have plenty of needs and two first-round picks to jumpstart plugging young players into them. Toward the top of the list of overall offseason needs is wide receiver, however the front office chooses to attack it via free agency, trades and/or the draft.
Right now, without a quarterback worthy of that high a pick, mock drafts have the Lions going defense with their own first-round pick, of course currently projected top-five, if not first overall since that’s where they’d be if the draft were today. Oregon defensive lineman Kayvon Thibodeaux, LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. or Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton are common picks, depending on the mock.
But in two recent mocks, the same player has shown up with the Lions’ second first-round pick. That pick came via the Matthew Stafford trade with the Los Angeles Rams, and will be very late in the first round barring something unforeseen.
Lions 2022 draft: Is George Pickens still a first-round pick?
In his most recent mock draft last Wednesday (Oct. 21), Josh Edwards of CBS Sports had the Lions taking Hamilton No. 3 overall and Georgia wide receiver George Pickens at No. 29. Hamilton was injured in Notre Dame’s last game, so a fresh revision may alter that pick.
Here’s what Edwards wrote about Pickens though.
Detroit bolsters the wide receiver room with the addition of Pickens, who has missed this season with an injury. The Lions added Kyle Hamilton with their first pick, so length is the buzz word of the day in the Motor City.
In his most recent mock draft, Joe Marino of The Draft Network has the Lions taking Thibodeaux No. 1 overall…and Pickens at No. 29.
Here’s Marino’s take.
The Lions have plenty of needs and offensive firepower is near the top of the list. The current wide receiver depth chart is underwhelming and is absent of a true go-to option that the Lions can design its passing game around. George Pickens can change that.
While Pickens has yet to play in 2021 as he recovers from injury, he has the makings of a dynamic X-receiver in the NFL. He can uncover quickly, separate vertically, and is an alpha at the catch point.
As Edwards and Marino alluded to, Pickens has not played this season due to a torn right ACL suffered in spring practice back in March. If the Bulldogs go deep in the postseason (like to the College Football Playoff), there’s a chance he could be cleared to play. Otherwise he’ll enter the pre-draft process having not played all season, assuming he declares. Medical evaluations will be important to him maintaining any chance to be a first-round pick. But the timing of the injury means he’s in line to be good to go in plenty of time for the start of any NFL offseason work.
As a freshman in 2019, Pickens (6-foot-3, 200 pounds) led the Bulldogs with 49 receptions for 727 yards and eight touchdowns. In eight games last year he had 36 catches for 513 yards and six touchdowns, with a big chunk of that production (23 catches for 373 yards, four touchdowns) in JT Daniels’ four starts.
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Pickens has No. 1 wide receiver traits, and in very early 2022 mock drafts he was regularly being tabbed to go in the top half of the first round.
Pickens should be 100 percent healthy for however the NFL Combine looks in the spring, and Georgia’s Pro Day whenever that will be. The Lions should have a lot of interest in him as they survey the prospect landscape at wide receiver, and they may very well nab him late in the first round or early in the second if he’s healthy and the board falls that way.