Yesterday, the Pittsburgh Steelers continued to play host to draft hopefuls, with Friday’s edition featuring Arizona State wide receiver Jaelen Strong. The 19th out of state pre-draft visit thus far, Strong is the fifth wide receiver that the Steelers have brought in to the South Side thus far, out of their allotted 30 such visits.
The team has also previously brought in wide receivers Breshad Perriman and Sammie Coates, as well as Devin Gardner and Tyler Murphy, the latter of whom both played quarterback in college but have or could potentially be converting to wide receiver at the professional level. The Steelers have had success with those types in the past.
As for the first three names listed, all three of them figure to be selected during the first two days of the draft. Perriman in particular could be drafted as early as the first round, while Strong is often regarded as an early second-round candidate with a borderline possibility of slipping into the first round.
Coates, meanwhile, figures to be a day two selection, and brings to mind some similarities to the player that the Steelers got in the fourth round a year ago, Martavis Bryant. While lacking his height, Coates was also a deep threat, averaging 21 yards per catch, but he needs coaching and has dropped balls in the past.
All of these players, however, have some reason or other to be brought in for a visit to gather more information. After all, the Steelers would not have done so if they had nothing to gain from bringing them in. for Strong, for example, perhaps there was a medical update sought, as he played through a wrist injury last season. Conversion projects also always warrant further examination.
With the amount of attention paid to some of the higher end prospects at the wide receiver position, however, I have to wonder how seriously to take what appears to be interest in the part of the Steelers to add to their depth there on the first two days of the draft.
The Steelers already have what they believe to be their top trio in Antonio Brown, Bryant, and Markus Wheaton, although, admittedly, there is not much proven depth when you get beyond those three players. The latter two, also, have yet to accumulate much experience at the professional level as well.
There has to be considered the fact that teams will never be able to re-sign everybody. When Brown’s next contract is up, he will still be comparatively young, and likely still near his peak, which will no doubt command a sizable contract.
When the time comes, could the Steelers really be able to afford to re-sign both Wheaton and Bryant? History suggests that the team has always had to make the decision between one or another, most recently with Mike Wallace and Emmanuel Sanders, both of whom left in free agency after four seasons. So perhaps it’s not so absurd to think that the team has genuine interest in the wide receiver position near the top of the draft.