Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant had a very productive rookie campaign that culminated with him registering 26 regular-season catches for 549 yards and eight touchdowns. However, if the Clemson product expects to build on those numbers in his second season, he’ll have to continue to prove this year that he’s more than just a tall, speedy receiver that can haul in the deep ball, along with providing space for the other Steelers receivers to work by taking the top off of coverages.
According to our game charting from last season, 9 of Bryant’s 26 catches came 16 or more yards past the original line of scrimmage. Additionally, 11 of his catches came within five yards of the line of scrimmage. 5 of those 11, however, were caught behind the original line of scrimmage.
Simple math tells you that Bryant only had 6 receptions last year that came between 6 and 15 yards past the line of scrimmage. Is that a bad percentage based on what he was asked to do last season? Absolutely not, but if he’s going to earn more playing time in two-receiver sets in 2015, one would expect that he’ll be needed more in the intermediate passing game.
Here is something else to consider about Bryant’s rookie season. 19 of his 26 catches last season came when the Steelers utilized 11 personnel, which includes three wide receivers on the field.
On top of proving that he can be relied upon in the Steelers intermediate passing game in 2015 in addition to producing in two-receiver sets, Bryant will also need to show that he can move the chains on third down more consistently than he did during his rookie season. Last season he was targeted 12 times on third downs, but only registered 6 catches of which 3 resulted in either a first down (2) or a touchdown (1).