The Pittsburgh Steelers well underway with the offseason workouts at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the heart of the offseason, where hope springs eternal following a few months of pretty significant changes, in terms of both departures and arrivals.
How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: How many players will gain at least 500 receiving yards for the Steelers in 2019?
It was a couple of years ago that the Steelers had the somewhat rare distinction of a stable of pass-catcher that included at least five players who gained at least 500 yards through the air. Given the way that things have shifted this offseason, I certainly believe it’s possible for this current group to do that again, and possibly even go beyond that.
I think it’s safe to say that JuJu Smith-Schuster will clear the 500-yard bar, which is rather low for him considering that he is averaging over 1000 yards per season so far in his young career. Among the rest of the wide receivers, none are a given.
But I could easily see three coming from the rest of that group. The Steelers have talked about replacing Antonio Brown with multiple people. If three people replace him, each of them could get 500 yards apiece, perhaps Donte Moncrief, James Washington, and Diontae Johnson.
As long as Vance McDonald stays healthy, I think the floor for him is 500 yards at this point. Schematically, he should only have more opportunities than last season when he caught 50 passes for over 600 yards.
And James Conner recorded just under 500 receiving yards even though he missed three games. Depending on how things get divided up, either he or Jaylen Samuels could wind up hitting 500 yards. Or they could work against one another and combine for 900 yards with neither of them getting to 500 individually.
I’m not banking on Alejandro Villanueva hitting 500 yards this year, but I do think this team should easily get four players reach 500 receiving yards, that five players is more than doable, and that even six possibly is very much in reach. Especially if they throw the ball nearly 700 times as they did last year.