NFL betting: As George Pickens preseason hype grows, so do OROY bets on him

·3-min read

If you follow NFL Twitter, it's hard to go a day without someone commenting on how good George Pickens looks in Pittsburgh Steelers training camp.

Some days, it's hard to go 15 minutes without a Pickens shout-out.

Pickens, a second-round receiver out of Georgia, is having himself a great camp. His highlight hurdling a defender got a lot of buzz.

And in a wide-open NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year race, sportsbooks are suddenly rooting for the Pickens hype to slow down. They do not want him winning Offensive Rookie of the Year.

George Pickens started at 50-to-1

The biggest liability for Offensive Rookie of the Year at BetMGM is Pickens.

Pickens opened at 50-to-1 to win the award. Those odds are down to 18-to-1. There are a lot of huge tickets out there on Pickens. For the OROY award, 13 percent of all money bet is on Pickens. Only Pickens' teammate, quarterback Kenny Pickett, has a higher percentage of money bet on him to win the NFL's award for top offensive rookie. No other rookie is getting more than 10 percent of the money.

Just because Pickens is getting a lot of training camp hype doesn't mean it will necessarily translate to games. He still has Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool ahead of him in the pecking order at receiver, and the Steelers' quarterback situation of Mitchell Trubisky and Pickett won't lend itself to propping up three receivers.

But sometimes it's smart to bet on talent. Pickens was a first-round prospect but an ACL injury led to his short drop. He had unmistakable ability at Georgia and his pro teammates see it already in Steelers camp.

There are a lot of hurdles Pickens has to clear to be in the Offensive Rookie of the Year race. But that can be said for just about every other rookie this season.

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver George Pickens (14) leaps over defensive back Justin Layne during a training camp drill. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver George Pickens (14) leaps over defensive back Justin Layne during a training camp drill. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

A wide-open rookie race

The place to always start for any NFL award is at quarterback. There are no great candidates in the OROY race this season.

Only one quarterback went in the first two rounds and that was Pickett. He has been spending a lot of time on the third team as he learns the offense. Trubisky has struggled in camp, too, and maybe Pickett takes over the job early enough to win rookie of the year, but that's no sure thing. No other rookie quarterback has a clear path to starting most of this season.

There are a few running backs who could have big seasons, most notably Breece Hall of the New York Jets or possibly James Cook of the Buffalo Bills. But no running back is a sure thing to dominate carries in his team's backfield.

There are a ton of talented rookie receivers in this class and that's where Pickens could find some tough competition. The Atlanta Falcons' Drake London has a clear path to be his team's No. 1 wide receiver. Skyy Moore of the Kansas City Chiefs is playing with a great quarterback. Romeo Doubs of the Green Bay Packers has been getting rave reviews in camp and he also plays with a great quarterback in a thin receiver corps. Others could have notable seasons.

But Pickens isn't a bad dart throw, even if he was much better at 50-to-1. Training camp hype is often dismissed as fluff. But sometimes it's a sign of things to come, especially when the drumbeat is steady like it has been for Pickens.