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Devil’s Advocate: Counting Out Cobi

You may recall for the past several offseasons that I ran an article series called The Optimist’s/Pessimist’s Take. I used it to explore different issues and topics the Pittsburgh Steelers were facing and took a positive or negative approach, examining each side in a separate article. This is essentially the same idea behind that, only condensed into one article for every topic.

In this version of the idea, I’ll be playing the Devil’s Advocate for both sides of the issue, looking at the best-case and worst-case scenarios in trying to find the range of likely outcomes of what is likely to happen for the Steelers relating to whatever topic the article is covering.

When it comes to the process of trying to construct a championship roster, the reality is that there are a ton of moving parts, and several ways to acquire said parts. There are a lot of things that can go right or wrong in not always predictable ways, so I think it’s helpful to try to look at issues by seeking out the boundaries of the likely positive or negative results.

Topic: Could the odds of Cobi Hamilton sticking on the 53-man roster be better than is popularly believed?

It seems a foregone conclusion that the most hotly-contested position on the 90-man roster this summer is going to be at wide receiver—so much so that at least one player who was on the 53-man roster a year ago is not even being considered as a contender to play there again this year.

The least talked about wide receiver seems to be Cobi Hamilton, whom the Steelers added in training camp last year and impressed enough as a reserve player who had never caught a pass in a meaningful game before that he made the practice squad after his short amount of time with the team.

After being promoted to the 53-man roster, he caught 17 passes for 234 yards and two touchdowns, many of those receptions coming on third down and resulting in moving the chains. He was also known for making tough catches in traffic.

Funnily enough, that was the exact quality that was talked about regarding JuJu Smith-Schuster. And they also talked about Smith-Schuster in terms of his blocking ability—another thing that the Steelers valued in Hamilton.

The guy does a lot of the little things that don’t get noticed very often because there are no stats to keep track of them, or at least not mainstream stats. But he is a gamer, and the coaches obviously liked him.

But that just speaks to the depth that the Steelers have at the position right now that a player like him—who can also contribute on special teams—would be on the outside looking in. Whenever I take upon the exercise of assembling a wide receiver depth chart, I just can’t find a place for him.

At the least, Hamilton would have to expand his special-teams duties to unseat Darrius Heyward-Bey, for starters. But this is his first proper offseason with the team, so there is reason to believe that he could continue to grow in Pittsburgh. It doesn’t hurt that he’s 6’2”, either.

Which side do you lean closer toward?

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