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In Practice, Steelers WRs Have A Ton To Prove

So, it’s time to talk about the Pittsburgh Steelers and their fully-stocked cupboard at the wide receiver position. Pittsburgh is bringing with them arguably the deepest group of wide receivers, from the top to the bottom, that they have ever seen in their history. And yet so few of them have actually produced a significant body of work.

Those are really two separate conversations to have, however, and I intend to have both of them in full. As I mentioned yesterday, the former, the on-paper product, looks quite impressive as we head into training camp. But in practice—or rather, in games—there is very little to go on that is tangible beyond Antonio Brown.

As part of this process, I wanted to plug in the numbers, and to do so, I put it in handy chart form.

Player Games Catches Yards TDs
Antonio Brown 101 632 8377 50
Martavis Bryant 21 76 1314 14
Sammie Coates 20 22 446 2
Darrius Heyward-Bey 114 199 2841 16
Eli Rogers 13 48 594 3
Justin Hunter 48 78 1305 12
Cobi Hamilton 11 17 234 2
Demarcus Ayers 2 6 53 1
JuJu Smith-Schuster 0 0 0 0
Marcus Tucker 0 0 0 0
Canaan Severin 0 0 0 0
Total 330 1078 15164 100
Total Minus Brown 229 446 6787 50

As a group, the Steelers have 11 wide receivers on the roster, and all 11 of them have combined for 330 games played, 1078 receptions for 15164 yards and 100 touchdowns. Those numbers don’t look nearly impressive when you take Brown out of the equation. In 229 games minus Brown’s contributions, the other 10 receivers on the roster have 446 career receptions for 6787 yards and 50 touchdowns.

Only three other receivers have at least 50 receptions in their career, and of them, only one—eight-year veteran Darrius Heyward-Bey—has more than 100. Those three same receivers are also the only ones with at least 1000 receiving yards, and Heyward-Bey is the only one over 2000 yards.

Yet again, it is those three—the other two being Martavis Bryant and free agent Justin Hunter—who have at least 10 touchdowns, and Heyward-Bey is the only one with more than 15.

In fact, nobody else on the roster even has five touchdowns…or even four. Only two other receivers on the roster even have 400 receiving yards in their career, those being Sammie Coates and Eli Rogers. Six of their 11 wide receivers have fewer than 25 receptions in their career, although that of course included three first-year or rookie players.

We can write all we want about how talented this wide receiver group is, but the reality is that beyond Brown, collectively they don’t have a whole lot to show for it. They collectively have averaged fewer than two receptions for fewer than 30 yards and fewer than .25 touchdowns per game played among them.

That’s why we have to understand very carefully how much what we’re actually talking about is potential. Even when it comes to Bryant.

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