Steelers rookie camp notes: George Pickens confident he can make seamless leap from SEC to NFL


George Pickens played on the best team in the best conference in college football last season. The rookie wide receiver, therefore, isn’t intimidated by making the leap to the NFL.

“It’s not really a huge transition depending on (coming from) the SEC or what conference you came from,” Pickens said on the first say of Pittsburgh Steelers rookie minicamp Friday. “But it’s been a great opportunity and a great journey. Really, a long journey to get to this point, so I’m just looking at it, really, as a great opportunity.”

Pickens was the Steelers’ second-round pick out of Georgia, the reigning national champion. With the departure of three of the Steelers’ top five wide receivers from last season, Pickens and fourth-round wideout Calvin Austin III figure to have an immediate opportunity to contribute.

“Me and Calvin, we’re already real good friends,” Pickens said. “We just talk about regular stuff … video games, stuff like that.”

Pickens became the first member of the Steelers’ 2022 draft class to sign when the team announced his four-year deal later Friday afternoon. All rookie contracts are under salary parameters (based on pick slot) per the collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and its players’ association.

Respect for Miller

Connor Heyward quickly interrupted a question about the uniform number he was wearing.

“I didn’t pick my number, for people wondering,” the Steelers’ sixth-round pick said.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if they retired it any time.”

Heyward respects the man who is most associated with his new number of his new team.

“Heath Miller,” said Heyward of No. 83. “ … He’s a legend here.”

Heyward is listed as “TE/FB” on the rookie minicamp roster, and he trended more toward tight end as his career wound down at Michigan State. The number he was assigned likewise indicates the Steelers view him more at that position, too.

That means — with the jersey number he was assigned — inevitable comparisons to Miller, who was part of two Super Bowl-winning teams over an 11-year career with the Steelers that ended after the 2015 season.

“He was a really good player, a really good person in the community here and the best tight end in Steelers history,” Heyward said. “So I know what I am wearing right now. I have high expectations, but I like high expectations. I have been having pressure my whole life, and I am used to it, so I am just going to accept it so hopefully I will leave my jersey (number) in an even better place when I am done.”

Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at or via Twitter .

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