The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: The battle for the sixth wide receiver spot is wide open.
Explanation: It seems unlikely at this point that the Steelers will enter the 2019 season with fewer than six wide receivers. Whom the sixth—and even the fifth—wide receiver will be is less certain. Likely, one of Ryan Switzer and Eli Rogers will make the team, but there are many candidates for the final spot.
After last night’s game, it would be unfair to argue that it isn’t wide open. Tevin Jones continued to build from his strong finish to the preseason a year ago. While he dropped a pass on offense, Diontae Spencer demonstrated his big-play potential and his ability to perform as a return on both punts and kicks. And then there’s Johnny Holton, who also showed off his speed with a big play on offense, and is capable of being both a returner and a coverage player on special teams.
Add in the loser of the fifth spot between Switzer and Rogers, and you have four legitimate options of players competing for the number six role, who offer versatility in their skill set. Holton and Jones bring size, while Spencer and Switzer/Rodgers are more nuanced in their routes, though Spencer is more of an outside receiver than in the slot. All five are capable of playing on special teams, to boot.
When all is said and done, you know who is going to be on the roster. I think only Holton, a potential replacement for Darrius Heyward-Bey, might have a legitimate shot at squeezing out either Switzer or Rogers of a roster spot, but the team has made it clear that they are very capable of keeping both players despite the similarities in their skill sets.
When it comes to Spencer, he has speed, but he also has issues. Dropped balls are a big deal, and if you do that on offense, you can put a punt on the ground, too. He already failed to signal for a fair catch. And as for Jones, he has made strides, but he has such a long hill to climb before he can really enter the discussion, and the better guys like James Washington do, the worse his chances are of making it, I think.