It’s pretty clear by now for those who follow the Pittsburgh Steelers closely that they are not ones to beat around the bush. When it comes to their draft strategy, they hide their agenda in plain sight. They draft the guys they talk to and bring in. They end up taking the positions they focus on.
It’s never going to be universally true, but there are clear patterns and we have traced them over the years. So when we start to see the number of wide receivers they kick the old tires on, the interest in the position has to be taken as quite serious.
Aside from the two local prospects they have brought in, the Steelers will now have brought in three different wide receivers for pre-draft, including the very notable name of Christian Kirk. The Steelers also expressed a lot of interest in Oklahoma State wide receiver James Washington. Both of these players could be day-two picks in the draft.
The Steelers still have about 10 or so pre-draft visits either that are available to them or that have yet to be confirmed, so there is an excellent chance that they look at even more wide receivers. But that the team would have interest in drafting a wide receiver should not be a surprise in the first place.
Because, for one thing, they always have interest in drafting a wide receiver. I mean, they almost literally do. They have taken at least one wide receiver in each of the past six drafts, in 10 of the 11 drafts of the Mike Tomlin era, and in all but four drafts since 2000. They have drafted multiple wide receivers five times, not including slash players.
The Steelers are a team that understands the process of keeping the pipeline moving. Antonio Brown is the lifeblood of the wide receiver position, and everybody around him is ultimately expendable at some point. Even JuJu Smith-Schuster, who could quite possibly price himself out of Pittsburgh by the time his rookie contract is up.
Next on the schedule departures list though is Martavis Bryant, whose contract year is the primary reasons that the team could very realistically be looking to take a player at his position on the second day of the draft. They may not go into the draft explicitly planning to do that, but simply knowing it’s one of their choice options.
Could Kirk, or Washington, or another name be the next wide receiver chucked into the pipeline, ready to eventually take over when the next number two or three finds himself in another uniform (in a long-standing tradition going back pretty much since Lynn Swann retired)?
The team’s pre-draft interests, which they wear out in the open without fear of subterfuge, clearly mark it as a strong possibility. After all, when you gunning for a Super Bowl, is there ever such a thing as too many good wide receivers anyway?