As odd as it might seem, it’s entirely possible that the Pittsburgh Steelers could, for the fourth year in a row, use a second or early third-round pick on the wide receiver position, as we saw with Dave Bryan’s first mock draft of the offseason yesterday.
In 2017, the Steelers used the 62nd pick to add JuJu Smith-Schuster, who had a meteoric rise over the course of his first two seasons, earning Pro Bowl honors in 2018 after catching 111 passes for 1526 yards. Due to a number of reasons, he had a major down season last year, missing four games.
The team went back to the position in 2018 with James Washington, taking him with the 60th pick. After a disappointing rookie season, with little production despite a good amount of playing time, he seemed to turn the corner last year, especially in the second half of the season.
Then a year ago, they used the 66th pick, which they got in trade from the Oakland Raiders in exchange for Antonio Brown, on Diontae Johnson, who would go on to catch 59 passes for 680 yards with five touchdowns during his rookie season.
Could they do it again? Might they add a veteran in free agency instead, as they did last year with Donte Moncrief? Moncrief proved to be a failure, in large part due to an injury he suffered in training camp, but the idea was there.
Pro Football Focus recently published an analysis of some free agent wide receivers and projected some teams who would fit as suitors. The Steelers’ name came up twice, first for Robby Anderson from the New York Jets, and later for Breshad Perriman, who played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last year.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are an interesting case, as their best receiver, JuJu Smith-Schuster, is not close to Anderson in terms of usage, so they could need a complementary piece next to him. What would make the signing intriguing is that both Anderson and Smith-Schuster have yet to prove they can be a clear-cut No. 1 option, so the Steelers could let it develop on the field.
They also cautioned that the Steelers may well prefer to bide its time and see what Washington can offer in year three, who would likely serve much the same role as Anderson, should he be signed. On Perriman, they wrote that his fits are much the same as that for Anderson.
And toward that end, they highlighted the Steelers and the Raiders as potential candidates as “a bargain for teams that don’t necessarily need him to step in as their first option”, which they already have in Smith-Schuster, of course.
It’s very likely the Steelers add another wide receiver at some point this offseason. Outside of Smith-Schuster, Washington, and Johnson, they have only Ryan Switzer, who was already not playing on offense, Deon Cain, and Johnny Holton, in addition to some practice squad-level players on the 90-man roster.