With the lull of the NFL offseason in full effect after the draft, many football fans can only read up on the OTA’s or count the calendar days until training camps get under way for their favorite ball clubs. For the Pittsburgh Steelers, it’s a team in transition as they’re undergoing a defensive overhaul, saluting goodbyes and well wishes to all-time fan favorites like Troy Polamalu or Brett Keisel. On offense, it’s the same story, and it’s been occurring for a few years now, morphing from your grand daddy’s Steelers, a smash mouth, ground-it-out, ball control offense to a juggernaut capable of scoring with the best of them, and littered with Pro Bowlers.
In fact, it’s an offense that will be looked upon to do the heavy lifting for the team, with the defense looked at as the team’s Achilles’ Heel of sorts. According to CBS Sports Senior NFL writer, Pete Prisco, there looks to be another potential all-star on the horizon in the form of wide receiver Martavis Bryant.
Much like former Steelers speedster, Mike Wallace, Bryant possesses the deep ball speed to run by defenders, but unlike Wallace, he also has a 6-foot-4 frame to make the most difficult catches with ease, going up and ripping the ball out of the air like a basketball player grabbing a rebound. Prisco had the following to say regarding Bryant’s outlook in 2015 and beyond.
“He had 26 catches as a rookie last season, but the number that stands out is 21.1 yards per catch. This kid can fly. He looked like a raw rookie just getting by with athletic ability last season. With a year under his belt, and Antonio Brown on the other side, look out.”
With the All-Pro Brown suctioning in constant double teams, Bryant is going to face a lot of single coverage, and that only bodes well for his continued looks from Ben Roethlisberger. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me to say Brown’s numbers will face a nice hit as a result of Bryant’s speed/size combo, which as I wrote about a couple weeks ago, seems to fit the bill as far as Ben’s preference in the past for a bigger receiver. That’s taking nothing away from Brown, because as we all know, he is a legitimate game breaker. Instead it’s a testament to the potential of Bryant, who as Prisco noted, will have a full offseason under his belt to work on things like his route tree and his chemistry with Roethlisberger.
So instead of just being looked at as a one-trick pony of sorts, like the aforementioned Wallace who just runs by people, Bryant can be so much more. Prisco’s list includes other up-and-comers like Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles, Kansas City’s Travis Kelce and Arizona’s Tyrann Mathieu, none of which have made a Pro Bowl. However, if his list comes to fruition, Bryant will make big strides in his sophomore season, and perhaps be the final piece of the offensive puzzle that can capture the seventh Lombardi Trophy.