August 26, 2012

Rookie of the Year: Carl Pickens, 1992


Wide Receiver, Cincinnati Bengals



Age: 22
College: Tennessee
Height: 6’2”    Weight: 206

Prelude:
With two choices in the first round of the 1992 NFL draft, the Bengals took QB David Klingler and DB Darryl Williams, and three picks later, in the second round, Pickens, who was coming out of college following his junior year. Considered to be a receiver of great potential, there were also concerns about his attitude. It was anticipated that he would be used as a third wide receiver as a rookie, but he ended up starting 10 games.

1992 Season Summary
Appeared in all 16 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 26       
Most receptions, game – 4 (for 34 yds.) vs. Pittsburgh 11/29
Yards – 326
Most yards, game - 47 (on 2 catches) at Houston 10/25
Average gain – 12.5
TDs – 1

Punt Returns
Returns – 18
Yards – 229 [16, tied with Eric Bieniemy]
Most yards, game – 100 (on 2 ret.) at Green Bay 9/20
Average per return – 12.7 [2, tied with Kelvin Martin]
TDs – 1 [5, tied with eight others]
Longest return – 95 yards

Scoring
TDs – 2
Points – 12

Awards & Honors:
NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year: AP

Bengals went 5-11 to finish fourth in the AFC Central.

Aftermath:
Pickens improved to 43 catches for 565 yards (13.1 avg.) and 6 TDs in 1993, continuing to show great leaping ability and athleticism if not blazing speed. With Jeff Blake replacing David Klingler at QB during the ’94 season, Pickens’ numbers improved and he had six plays of 50 yards or more among his 71 receptions for 1127 yards (15.9 avg.) and 11 TDs. He reached his peak in 1995 and ’96, seasons in which he led the AFC in pass receptions and was selected to the Pro Bowl, catching 99 passes for a career-high 1234 yards and league-leading 17 TDs in ’95 and 100 for 1180 yards and 12 TDs in ’96. Pickens was limited to 12 games by injury in 1997, but returned to catch 82 passes for 1023 yards and 5 TDs in ’98. However, attitude problems combined with declining play and the arrival of younger receivers caused a decline in production to 57 receptions and 737 yards in 1999 and Pickens finished his career with Tennessee in 2000, where he signed as a free agent and caught 10 passes. Overall, he ended up with 540 receptions for 7129 yards (13.2 avg.) and 63 TDs (64 touchdowns overall with his one punt return TD).

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Rookie of the Year Profiles feature players who were named Rookie of the Year in the NFL, AFL (1960-69), or USFL (1983-85) by a recognized organization (Associated Press – Offense or Defense, Newspaper Enterprise Association, United Press International, The Sporting News, or the league itself – Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year). 

[Updated 2/7/14]