There is a pretty good chance that the Pittsburgh Steelers select a wide receiver during the 2019 NFL Draft. The team is looking for a way to replace talented receiver Antonio Brown after he was traded to the Oakland Raiders. It would be hard to replace Brown’s presence and production with just one or even two players and it seems the Steelers are going to try to replace Brown with a collective effort. The team will be looking to sophomore receiver James Washington and then free agent acquisition Donte Moncrief to help burden the loss but the team has also been looking at plenty of receiving prospects this offseason.
The team has officially brought in four receiving prospects this offseason while meeting or working out a few more receivers. With plenty of draft capital and in a deep receiving class, the Steelers should definitely be looking at this year’s receiving class to help the offense as Ben Roethlisberger’s career enters its twilight. One interesting proposal revolves around the Steelers selecting not just one but two receivers. While it may seem far fetched or redundant, GM Kevin Colbert’s drafting history shows it may not be as far fetched as one may think.
Along with Brown, the Steelers have parted ways with many talented wide receivers over the years, Plaxico Burress, Antwaan Randle El, Santonio Holmes and Mike Wallace. Burress’ departure following the 2004 season was the only time where the Steelers did not double dip with receivers in the following draft from the scenarios listed above. As noted below, the Steelers double dipped on receivers following the departures of Randle-El, Holmes and Wallace.
2006 NFL Draft: Following Randle El’s departure
1st round – Santonio Holmes
3rd round – Willie Reed
2010 NFL Draft: Following Holmes’ trade
3rd round – Emmanuel Sanders
6th round – Antonio Brown
2013 NFL Draft: Following Wallace’s departure
3rd round – Markus Wheaton
6th round – Justin Brown
It seems as if Colbert’s strategy for addressing the loss of talented receivers is to load up the room with as many helping hands as possible. It has certainly worked, though in varying degrees, on the three listed scenarios above. Holmes went on to be the team’s primary receiver until he was traded. To offset his loss, the Steelers took Sanders and Brown despite having Wallace and Hines Ward as proven contributors. When Wallace departed, Wheaton was drafted and though his impact was not as big as his predecessors, he still played a complimentary role.
With ten draft picks in this year’s draft, the Steelers certainly have the arsenal to double dip in order to relieve Brown’s absence. If history does prove to be correct and the front office does plan to double down on receivers, here are all the prospects they have shown interest in.
Miles Boykin (Notre Dame)
Andy Isabella (UMass)
Dillion Mitchell (Oregon)
Diontae Johnson (Toledo)
N’Keal Harry (Arizona State)
Gary Jennings Jr. (West Virginia)
David Sills V (West Virginia)
Riley Ridley (Georgia)
Marquise Brown (Oklahoma)
D.K. Metcalf (Ole Miss)
A.J. Brown (Ole Miss)
Deebo Samuel (South Carolina)
N’Keal Harry (Arizona State)
It is hard to narrow in on the range the Steelers are aiming to take a receiver, as they have shown interest in prospects projected to go anywhere from round one to day three, another reason to believe they may be interested in double dipping. They met with a handful of top receivers at the Combine, including Antonio Brown’s cousin Marquise Brown and Arizona State receiver N’Keal Harry, who they also worked out at his Pro Day. Harry is not the only receiver that the Steelers have shown some extra love to as West Virginia David Sills V caught the Steelers’ attention at his Pro Day but he was also shown chatting it up with Mike Tomlin at the Senior Bowl.
As they have shown a tendency to in the past, the Steelers tend to double dip at receiver when a big member of their receiving group departs. There are no bigger shoes to fill than those of Brown’s and while it would be quite difficult to expect one player to fill his shoes, it would be a lot easier as a collective effort. With the draft capital the Steelers have at their disposal and history on their side, they may choose to double down once again.