The NFL Combine kicked off this week, and while most draft hopefuls are currently making their way through interviews and medical exams, the first group of prospects—quarterbacks, wide receivers, and tight ends—will participate in on-field drills, which will be televised at 4 p.m. ET on NFL Network.
In case you missed it, we previewed each of today’s position groups:
With an exciting day ahead, we are curious:
Which player are you most looking forward to watching on Day 1 of on-field drills?
The Detroit Lions could look to add players from each of those position groups, but they’ve made no secret that they’re looking to add an outside wide receiver—two if it was up to wide receiver coach Antwaan Randle El.
“Any time you can add a piece, or a weapon, on the perimeter particularly, that’s going to help. It’s going to help him (quarterback Jared Goff) and it will help us,” coach Dan Campbell said at the Combine on Tuesday. “So that’s one of the things that we’d like to do, whether it’s free agency or it’s the draft.”
With wide receiver such a pressing and obvious need, that’s where I will be focusing a lot of my attention.
My answer: George Pickens, WR, Georgia
I really wanted to pick USC’s Drake London, but he told the media on Wednesday that he’s not quite healed from an end-of-season ankle injury and needs to rehab a bit more. So that brought me to Pickens, who is a likely Day 2 prospect who has a lot of intangibles the Lions prefer at wide receiver, but also has some questions to answer in on-field drills.
Let’s start with the positives. Pickens (6-foot-3, 203) suffered an ACL injury in March of 2021 but was able to work his way back in time to play in the latter parts of the season. That hard work won’t go unnoticed by the Lions. He has a ton of confidence, is explosive off the snap and in routes, has reliable hands, terrific ball skills, and is a physical blocker. He is capable of playing the “X” and the “Z” on the outside and has field-stretching ability similar to what the Lions have in Josh Reynolds, but the soon-to-be 21-year-old (it’s his birthday on Friday) is nowhere near his final developmental ceiling—which is as a WR1.
Now for the questions I want to see if I can get answered. First, is his speed. Just a year removed from his ACL injury, Pickens didn’t look as fast this season and there have been rumors he could test in the 4.6’s, which would hurt his stock. It may not be as big of an issue for the Lions, who rely on GPS data, but he could put this narrative to bed with a strong time—which is what he expects to happen:
George Pickens says he has 4.3-4.4 speed. “People don’t know that. And me just saying that, people are like, ‘Whoa.’”— Chris Burke (@ChrisBurkeNFL) March 2, 2022
Getting in the 4.4’s would be a big win for Pickens and could vault him into the conversation for the Lions' pick at No. 32 or 34.
During the on-field drills, I want to see crisp routes, decisive movements, and technical improvements that show me he has been working at his craft this offseason. The opportunity is there for him to raise his stock back up to where it was before his ACL injury.
Agree? Disagree? Let me know your choice by sounding off in the comments.