INDIANAPOLIS — George Pickens has come a long way in his three seasons at Georgia, growing into one of the top receiver prospects in the nation.
Pickens, on the eve of his performance at the NFL Combine at the Indiana Convention Center, held court with the media for 20 minutes.
The former 5-star prospect was direct, confident and entertaining as he discussed his comeback from the ACL injury that sidelined him last March.
RELATED: George Pickens brings first-round mentality to NFL Combine
Here’s everything Pickens said from his interview stand on Wednesday:
Q: Who are some of the teams you have talked to so far?
GP: “A few teams, Chiefs, Jets, Jacksonville, San Francisco, the Packers.”
Q: How much of it is them just wanting to know you or just more so knowing what you bring to the game?
GP: “I bring to the game a few attributes that a few other guys don’t have: Size, speed, and they just really want to know how you can develop in their system.”
Q: How healthy are you?
GP: “I’m very healthy right now. With me coming back the last four games, trusting and preparing is no longer a problem. “
Q: Do you feel you’re 100 percent?
Q: When did you feel you were 100 percent?
GP: “Really I came back the Georgia Tech game. The SEC Championship was when I was most definitely 100 percent. I caught a Go-ball.”
Q: What has the last year been like for you, not being on the football field?
GP: “It was most definitely hard. Most definitely challenging. You want to be out there with the guys, they’re winning games without you. So it was most definitely hard. It’s nothing I haven’t seen before.”
Q: Did the rehab go like you expected? Did you have a plan that played out, and did you follow it?
GP: “As soon as I got hurt, I knew in my head that I was going to have a strict schedule and routine that I would try to abide by and get back as soon as I could.”
Q: What are you hoping to show at the combine this week?
GP: “Most definitely my speed, a lot of people don’t think I’m that fast, so I want to show everybody that I’m really the guy you see on film.”
Q: Why did you come out now rather than staying another year at Georgia where you could have played the whole season?
GP: “Yeah, I just decided to come out just strictly because if you do stay, you could do the same thing (injury) again. You don’t want to risk that.”
Q: The speed part factors into your vertical jump and broad jump, are those events you’ll be in the upper echelon do you think?
“Yeah, I’m going to do the vertical jump and the 40. I’m going to do the broad jump at the pro day. The 40 is one of the most important things I’m focused on.”
Q: Is there are time you want to hit?
GP: “Yeah, probably 4.3 or 4.4. People don’t really know that. Me just saying that number, people are like ‘whoa.’
Q: Do you think the injury set you back in terms of your NFL draft stock? And how much can you make up in the next couple of months?
GP: “I feel like it set me back in other teams’ minds, because everyone knows how serious the ACL is. Odell had it, it’s a really critical part of your body. But in terms of me personally, it hasn’t set me back at all. I still have a first-round mentality.”
Q: Are you trying to show people that you can run the whole route tree?
GP: “Yeah, for sure. I’m excited to show people that I’m a real route runner when it comes to flexibility in routes. I’m not just a deep-ball guy, or just a big guy — I”m a big guy that can move”
Q: How big was it to have signed an (NIL) deal with Tom Brady?
GP: That was good. We did the Brady deal in New York, Brooklyn. That was just a good thing to really expand my brand. And you meet Brady, of course. He’s a nice guy, and plus he retired this year, so it’s really a big emphasis now, even more, because no one was expecting to leave the game the way he did.”
Q: What did you learn about yourself having to go through the process of the rehab and watching your team?
GP: “I realized that I’m a real hard worker. I’m hard on myself, and when I figured that out, I figured out that if you know yourself, you can’t lie to yourself. I put those two together and I was able to come back faster than I actually thought I was going to be able to come back.”
Q: Is there anybody you model your game after or watch very much?
GP: “Yeah, I watch Davante Adams a lot. I’m bigger than Davante Adams, but that’s kind of the lane I want to go into with the size I am. A guy who can move is almost un-guardable.”
Q: What part of your game best translates to the NFL?
GP: “My ball skills, for sure. Contested catches, catching over the middle. I’m really good at drawing penalties on DBs.”
Q: What is your approach and mindset when it comes to blocking, and how much did playing at Georgia, a run-heavy team, help?
GP: “We have some good backs on our team, too. James Cook, Zamir White, Kenny McIntosh. Me, just blocking has always been a part of the program and scheme of the team. I’ve always been physical, that’s just one of the things I can add to my game besides pass-catching and besides going deep. Blocking is for sure one of the things I pride myself on.”
Q: How do you feel Georgia prepared you for the NFL?
GP: “I feel like they did a really good job preparing me for the NFL. Really the routine we do at Georgia, the practices are very similar — we have an NFL-type practices, we have NFL-type players Half of the players on my team are already here. It’s almost like you’re in the league already.”
Q: What would you tell the freshman version of yourself?
GP: “I’d probably tell the freshman George you didn’t know it was going to happen like this, but it’s one thing or another, so I’d probably tell freshman George to keep working. That’s something I didn’t know in 2019.”
Q: What kind of guy is Bo Nix, for his new teammates, what they should look for.
GP: “Bo Nix is actually a great quarterback to be honest. He could be here right now. The people at Oregon, I think they should pull out the best in him. He’s already got a good motor, he has a good mindset. The way he carries himself real privately, and I feel like Oregon that should have been the first choice for him.”
Q: How have the meetings with teams gone, and what’s the type of person you want them to take away that you are?
GP: “I really want teams to just see the person I am, because the type of play-style I have, and how I am on the field are two different people than the person I am now. I play with a chip on my shoulder, and that’s just how I’ve always been, and that’s how I’ll always be. I’m going to stay the same way.”
Q: What’s a weakness in your game, and how are you addressing that?
GP: “I’d probably say, me personally, I worked on my game in every aspect. I work every day. In peoples’ eyes, they would probably say speed. Like I was saying, you really don’t know how fast I really am until I show you. I”m physical so there’s really not a lot you can say.
Q: Do you see yourself as more of X or Z at the next level?
GP: “My freshman year I played both. The offense was based off if you were on one side or another, and I played X and Z, and I could play slot, also.”
Q: You played so much at a young age, as a freshman and sophomore. What was the mentality going into Georgia that you thought you could contribute right away and how will that help you in the NFL?
GP: “My mentality, the way I play, the style of play I play with, is really what helped me when I first got to Georgia. I really wasn’t seeing anybody, or seeing anybody DBs, or other receivers in competition. I was my own competition, for real, and that’s the mentality I’ve always had and that’s the mentality I’m going to compete.”
Q: How are the quarterbacks different at Georgia? We saw you produce big numbers with JT Daniels, but not as much with Stetson Bennett. Is there a difference in the offense with the quarterbacks?
GP: “Yeah, Stetson is more of like a run-first guy. He has the legs under him to run, so that gives him the option to run. JT, his touch and his throwing ability has really excelled over the years. They are both good quarterbacks, they are both great quarterbacks It’s just one fits one scheme and the other fits the other scheme.”
Q: What’s it like lining up against you? Are you chatty out there?
GP: “Yeah, I’m most definitely chatty. I like to talk trash, but I also like to show it. Kind of like how Richard Sherman was. Talk trash, but he also could back it up. And I feel like if you have that, you are going to put fear in a lot of people.”
Q: Who is the best trash-talker you went against?
GP: “The best trash talker I went against? I don’t really know. I really started the conversations.”
Q: Your ability as a run blocker, is that something that’s instinctive, like aggressiveness, or is that something that has to be coached into you.
GP: “I feel like aggressiveness, for sure. Me growing up, you either give the blow or you take it. If you can enforce your will, I’ll do it that way.”
Q: Have the Packers shown any interest in you?
“Yeah, I also did a few informal interviews and formal interviews with the Packers. Their scheme is real nice. They have a lot going on with MVP of the league Aaron Rodgers and with Davante they already have a nice fit for that time.”
Q: What can you learn from watching Davante Adams?
GP: “I can watch his separation. I watch Cooper Kupp, too. I can watch the separation. His releases are as smooth as I’ve ever seen besides Ochocinco.”
Q: That emphasis on releases seems unique for a big guy. How do you go about developing and formulating your ideas there?
GP: “I watch a lot of film on DBs. If he’s overaggressive I’m going to do a lot of speed release. I’m not going to let him try to touch me. But if he’s a soft-shoe guy, that’s when you can get in your bag (of tricks). You can create more time, you can soft-soap your releases.”
Q: Georgia was chasing a national championship, if it didn’t turn out that way would you have come back anyway?
GP: “It would have just been harder. It would have been a harder decision but I would have probably made the same decision. I knew the team I was on recently was special. Coach Smart mentioned it many times, so I knew the squad we had was special.”
Q: Inaudible question about proximity to Atlanta
GP: “When I first got to Georgia I used to watch a lot of Calvin Ridley. He stepped away from the game for a little bit so it’s kind of hard to watch him (recently).”
Q: What stood out about his game?
GP: “Calvin is more of a snap-down type of guy. He real good at the top of his routes. I saw him at Alabama, too, but I didn’t watch too much of him there.”
Q: How does Georgia prepare a receiver for the NFL? What are the benefits of playing in Todd Monken’s system?
GP: “The biggest benefit is a pro-style offense, and we are going to the pros, so that helps a lot. He was formerly with the Browns with Baker Mayfield and Odell Beckham. That’s the offense we ran, that same exact offense. So the biggest benefit is being in the pro-style offense.”
Q: Who are some of the Georgia receivers we should watch for next year now that you are moving on?
GP: “I’d say Adonai Mitchell. Really, Jermaine Burton. He’s no longer a Georgia receiver, but you’re going to want to keep your eye on him for sure.”
Q: If you want to show one catch to show a GM or a head coach, which one is it?
GP: “I’d probably say one from the Cincinnati Peach Bowl Game. I caught a post. It was another diving catch, kind or like the one here (at Lucas Oil Stadium in the CFP title game). It was crazy. I caught a pass at practice that went kind of viral, a one-handed catch.”
Q: What part of your game translates best to the next level.
GP: “My physicality for sure. That’s one thing I know, at the next level, that they’re going to have. Guys are going to be big, they’re going to be strong, they’re going to be fast, they’re going to be long. Just playing in the SEC really helps. You go against guys like Derek Stingley, JC Horn, same guys you’ll go against in the league every year. I feel like being in the SEC really improved my game a lot.”
Q: How confident are you that you are a first-round NFL draft pick?
GP: “I’m very confident, I know I can present to teams exactly what a first-round pick is. Like I was saying, my routes, my speed, my intelligence of the game, too. A lot of people don’t know that about me, that I watch a lot of football.”
Q: When did it hit you that you had won a national title?
GP: “When I actually came back here on Monday. When we flew in, when all the receivers and QBs flew in, it really hit me like, ‘I just caught a post here, and we just won the natty.’ It really hit me then.”