It is safe to say that the Pittsburgh Steelers have had some great rookie wide receivers over the years. Louis Lipps, Santonio Holmes, Mike Wallace, Troy Edwards and Martavis Bryant are just a few of the endless bunch of young talent that has come through Pittsburgh over the franchise’s history. While all the receivers listed were able to spark the franchise during their rookie season, many of their accolades are being threatened by a new rookie receiver- a rookie receiver, who is still not yet old enough to legally drink.
Through the first half of the 2017 NFL season, 20-year old rookie wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster has dazzled with his dance moves and football moves. Smith-Schuster currently leads all rookie receivers with 424 receiving yards and four touchdowns, putting him almost on pace to break many of the Steelers’ own rookie records as well.
Below are the top 14 modern-era seasons for a Steelers’ rookie wide receiver, sorted by receiving yards.
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Jimmy Orr tops the list totaling 910 receiving yards during his 1958 season, though that accolade may not be safe should Smith-Schuster continue his torrid pace. Smith-Schuster is currently on pace to accumulate 848 receiving yards, which would be just a little less than Orr’s’ record.
Smith-Schuster has also scored four touchdowns, thus putting the rookie wide receiver just behind the pace of Lipps’ rookie record of nine receiving touchdowns.
Smith-Schuster may have a favorable shot at reaching his projections as the receiver continues to grow his way into the offense. Sunday’s performance, in which Smith-Schuster recorded seven receptions for 193 yards, including a franchise record 97-yard touchdown reception, showed why the Steelers are eager to continue incorporating the rookie receiver into the offense.
The 20-year old rookie receiver has played over two-thirds of the Steelers’ offensive snaps in five of the last six games, showing incredible maturity for his age. Smith-Schuster is making the most of his opportunities, scoring touchdowns in consecutive weeks and earning Ben Roethlisberger’s trust on third down. Smith-Schuster currently has 12 receptions for over 200 yards on third down with nine of the 12 receptions earning a fresh set of downs.
It is obvious that the Steelers have a rare and outstanding talent at their hands in Smith-Schuster. And while rookie wide receiver talent has seemingly grown on trees during the Steelers’ recent history, Smith-Schuster is no ordinary rookie. The rookie wide receiver may be the most complete package both on and off the field that the Steelers have ever seen from a rookie wide receiver, giving him a favorable shot at many franchise rookie records.