When you have two of the best defensive backs of the last decade on the same team (like the Miami Dolphins do with Jalen Ramsey and Xavien Howard), you can expect to get some attention. Second-year Pittsburgh Steelers receiver George Pickens let it be known that he is “the best in the whole world.” Not really an unusual proclamation coming from an NFL receiver (and a really good one at that).
The unusual part of the article is when he starts talking about what corners he likes to face off against. I’ll let his words speak for themselves: “I always kill DBs who are overthinkers,” he says. “And what’s crazy is the overthinkers are Xavien Howard or Jalen [Ramsey], and those are the best guys. And that’s why I think most DBs can’t really check me.”
Lets not mince words, George Pickens is a supremely talented player. In his rookie campaign, Pickens racked up 801 yards, 4 touchdowns, and averaged over 15 yards a reception. He turned several heads and was a bright spot on a below-average Steelers offense in 2022. That’s all good and great, but does that really put him in the same stratosphere as players like Xavien Howard and Jalen Ramsey?
His Performances against Ramsey and Howard
You have to assume when a player calls someone out by name like this, that they’ve had some dominant reps against them in the past. Knowing that the Dolphins faced the Steelers last season, that was the first place I looked. Pickens hauled in all six of his targets for 61 yards and a touchdown... but how many actually came against Howard?
“I always kill DBs who are overthinkers, and what’s crazy is the overthinkers are Xavien Howard or Jalen [Ramsey], and those are the best guys. And that’s why I think most DBs can’t really check me.”— George Forder (@GeorgeForder3) August 2, 2023
Here are all of Pickens' targets against Miami last year... wouldn't put a… pic.twitter.com/v3cqY6ejN6
Not all that impressive, huh? To be honest I wouldn’t put any of those catches on Xavien Howard, even the ones where he’s lined up across from him. The two underneath catches against Howard came when he (Howard) clearly had a deep third responsibility and wasn’t biting on anything underneath. He did have some nice catches against Noah Igbinoghene though... As for his matchups against Jalen Ramsey, he has none.
It’s hard to say why he used those two names when he hasn’t had any real success against either player, but here we are. It’s a shame that the Dolphins don’t have the Steelers on their schedule for this regular season, but maybe they’ll meet in the playoffs where he would likely get a heavy dose of both Howard and Ramsey (assuming the latter can return by then).