The last time that we took a look back at the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster in review, it was very shortly after the 2016 season ended. It would be safe to say that quite a bit has changed, and, in a rarity, this actually applies to literally every position on the roster, including the quarterbacks and specialists.
We are closing in on the opening of the Steelers’ several weeks of training camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, however, so it would be a good time to pause and take stock of where the team stands at each position as we head into the most critical process of the offseason.
Position: Wide Receiver
Total Positional Figure: 11
Antonio Brown: This guy is pretty good. I guess that’s why he is the highest-paid wide receiver in the game.
Eli Rogers: A year after a foot injury ended his rookie season, Rogers started 13 games in the slot last year and had a solid first season for himself. There were some ups and downs, but it was a building block.
Sammie Coates: Coates came out like his hair was on fire during the first five games of the 2016 season. He denies that the injury was a physical issue, but rather a mental one. That is a lie. Let’s see how he looks this year.
Darrius Heyward-Bey: Still the fastest player on the team—so he claims—and a special-teams ace, Heyward-Bey’s roster spot is not guaranteed, but they could certainly use him and his leadership.
Cobi Hamilton: On a less talented roster, I would have a place for a guy like Hamilton, who does all the little things. On this roster? Probably not.
Demarcus Ayers: Ayers may have just as hard a time of making the roster as Hamilton, but we’ll see. He had some injuries during his rookie season, but he performed when given the chance. I’m sure he’d like to win the kick return job.
Marcus Tucker: Originally a rookie minicamp tryout, Tucker has been in the organization for most of the past year, spending time on the practice squad, and he’s still here, so that has to say something.
Canaan Severin: Severin spent the year on injured reserve as an undrafted rookie. After the draft he got released, but was brought back. Still, I’d like to see him in action.
JuJu Smith-Schuster: Their rookie second-round pick, as I wrote earlier today, there has been nothing but positivity about him since the draft. Working all over the field, it sounds like he’ll have a role sooner than later, but we’ll see.
Martavis Bryant: Oh yeah, they’re also getting Martavis Bryant back. And he actually cares about training and practicing and taking care of his body now. That could be good.
Justin Hunter: Good enough to see the addition of Hunter as a pure afterthought. The deep-threat with slot flexibility was signed before Bryant was reinstated, but he could still make the roster.
Dez Stewart: A footnote, really. He spent some time late last season on the practice squad and was re-signed after the season, but released after the draft.
Notes and Camp Outlook:
Outside of free agency and the draft, the Steelers did not bring in any new wide receivers this year. Not one undrafted rookie that they signed was a wide receiver. That speaks to the depth that they have. Really all I can say about training camp is that it could be a fun and competitive group to watch.