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2022 NFL Draft: George Pickens Injury Red Flag (Fantasy Football)

2022 NFL Draft: George Pickens Injury Red Flag (Fantasy Football)

When he closed out 2020 with 250 yards and 3 TDs in 2 games against top 25 opponents, George Pickens turned heads. Unfortunately, he followed that up by tearing his ACL in March ’21. Remarkably, he made it back to the field in under nine months from an injury that averages over 10 in the NFL. As impressive as that is, he didn’t really look like the dominant receiver we saw pre-injury, catching only five passes in 4 games. So, are we worried?

Not at all. WRs after ACLs see a 12-18 month decline in performance that returns to baseline during the second-year back. During his last game in January, Pickens was still only 10 months out. NFL injury data is clear – almost no WR has performed like himself that early into the recovery.

The moral of the story is? Don’t read too much into his limited production. Pickens is now one-year post-injury, so the SportsMedAnalytics algorithm rates his combine results – 4.47 40 time, 33 inch vertical – to represent only 80-90% of Pickens’s full explosiveness. That’s good news for Pickens supporters since his vertical ranks at only the 30th percentile for his position. 100% for Pickens should come right around the start of the ’22 NFL season.

Noteworthy here is what the early return tells us about the player. Effective ACL rehab takes significant dedication and work ethic, even though it can be physically painful. Pickens built his strength back up at hyper-speed to clear return-to-play testing to make it back. Based on the injury rehab alone, we’re sure that whichever team picks him is definitely getting a grinder.

The biggest worry about Pickens shouldn’t be the injury but the limited game tape we have on him. Still, with 6’3″, 200-pound size, ferocity as a run-blocker, and hands that only dropped 2 passes his entire college career, Pickens has the makings of a strong NFL WR. Of course, his position heavily depends on surrounding talent to be effective. With the Patriots, Chiefs, Bills, and Packers all reportedly in the market for a pass-catcher, Pickens might just have a chance hit the equivalent of the lottery for rookie receivers. If he lands on a productive offense, we’ll be expecting him to contribute to both his NFL and our fantasy teams right away.

CTAs


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