The Pittsburgh Steelers figure to have a solid group of wide receivers once again in 2018 and especially if rookie James Washington is able to contribute early and often. Washington should fit right in with the Steelers as not only a deep threat, but a pass catcher who can win his fair share of contested throws in his direction.
Last season, the Steelers receiving corps ranked fifth overall in the NFL when it came to contested catch rates, according to Pro Football Focus. That rate was 23% and according to a post earlier this offseason by PFF, Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown registered a 51.2% contested catch rate in 2017 and that was eighth-best in the NFL for all players who had at least 20 contested catch opportunities.
We saw fellow Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster make a few contested catches during his rookie season but I doubt he had 20 opportunities in total. Even so, he entered the NFL having shown he had a history of being a contested pass catcher at USC and the same goes for Washington during his four seasons at Oklahoma State. in fact, PFF had an infographic on Washington’s contested catch results from the 2017 season back in April and it pretty much speaks volumes.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger even commented on Washington’s combative catch ability earlier in the offseason.
“I like the way he makes combat catches. He’s strong at the catch point, so that’s good for now,” Roethlisberger said in early June.
With Brown, Smith-Schuster and Washington likely to play the bulk of the offensive snaps in 2018, one would think that the trio should be among the league’s best when it comes to several combined statistics and especially combative catch rates.
You so you can be aware of it, we plan on trying to chart this statistic ourselves this year for the Steelers for the first time.