NFL Draft

Study: What The Steelers Look For In Drafting Wide Receivers

As we’ve done for several other positions this draft season, we’re looking at the Pittsburgh Steelers draft thresholds when it comes to drafting receivers, arguably the most successful position they’ve drafted over the last two decades. As we’ve done for other positions, we’ll look back at the receivers they’ve drafted in the Mike Tomlin era, 2007-present, and list out a threshold criteria.

2020: Chase Claypool

Height: 6042
Weight: 238
40 Time: 4.42
Vertical: 40.5″
Broad: 10’6″
Short Shuttle: DNP
Three-Cone: DNP
Bench: 19
Hand Size: 9 7/8″

2019: Diontae Johnson

Height: 5104
Weight: 183
40 Time: 4.53
Vertical: 33.5″
Broad: 10’3″
Short Shuttle: 4.45
Three-Cone: 7.09
Bench: 15
Hand Size: 9″

2018: James Washington

Height: 5110
Weight: 213
40 Time: 4.54
Vertical: 34.5″
Broad: 10’0″
Short Shuttle: 4.32
Three-Cone: 7.11
Bench: 14
Hand Size: 9 3/4″

2017: JuJu Smith-Schuster

Height: 6012
Weight: 215
40 Time: 4.54
Vertical: 33.5″
Broad: 10’3″
Short Shuttle: N/A
Three-Cone: N/A
Bench: 15
Hand Size: 10 1/2″

2016: Demarcus Ayers

Height: 5093
Weight: 182
40 Time: 4.72
Vertical: 35″
Broad: 10’3”
Short Shuttle N/A
Three-Cone: N/A
Bench: N/A
Hand Size: 9 1/4″

2015: Sammie Coates

Height: 6012
Weight: 212
40 Time: 4.43
Vertical: 41.5″
Broad: 10’11”
Short Shuttle 4.06
Three-Cone: 6.98
Bench: 23
Hand Size: 9 3/8″

2014: Martavis Bryant 

Height: 6036
Weight: 211
40 Time: 4.42
Vertical: 39″
Broad: 10’4″
Short Shuttle 4.15
Three-Cone: 7.18
Bench: 16
Hand Size: 9 1/2″

2013: Markus Wheaton

Height: 5110
Weight: 189
40 Time: 4.45
Vertical: 37″
Broad: 10’0″
Short Shuttle 4.02
Three-Cone: 6.80
Bench: 20
Hand Size: 9 1/8″

Justin Brown

Height: 6031
Weight: 207
40 Time: 4.60
Vertical: 30.5″
Broad: 9’9″
Short Shuttle N/A
Three-Cone: N/A
Bench: 8
Hand Size: 9 5/8″

2012: Toney Clemons

Height: 6021
Weight: 210
40 Time: 4.40
Vertical: 36″
Broad: 10’8″
Short Shuttle N/A
Three-Cone: N/A
Bench: 11
Hand Size: 9 1/2″

2010: Emmanuel Sanders

Height: 5107
Weight: 186
40 Time: 4.41
Vertical: 39.5″
Broad: 10’6″
Short Shuttle 4.10
Three-Cone: 6.64
Bench: 12
Hand Size: 9 1/4″

Antonio Brown

Height: 5101
Weight: 186
40 Time: 4.57
Vertical: 33.5″
Broad: 8’9″
Short Shuttle 4.18
Three-Cone: 6.98
Bench: 13
Hand Size: 9″

2009: Mike Wallace 

Height: 6003
Weight: 199
40 Time: 4.33
Vertical: 40″
Broad: 10’9″
Short Shuttle 4.27
Three-Cone: 6.90
Bench: 14
Hand Size: 9″

2008: Limas Sweed

Height: 6037
Weight: 215
40 Time: 4.55
Vertical: 37.5″
Broad: 10’8″
Short Shuttle N/A
Three-Cone: N/A
Bench: N/A
Hand Size: 9 1/2″

2007: Dallas Baker

Height: 6031
Weight: 208
40 Time: 4.49
Vertical: 36″
Broad: 10’9″
Short Shuttle 4.19
Three-Cone: 6.69
Bench: N/A
Hand Size: 10 1/8″

Our criteria remains unchanged. Here’s the list.

Height: 5’10+ (13 of 14 players drafted)
Weight: 180+ (14 of 14)
40 Time: <4.57 (12 of 14)
Vert: 33+(13 of 14)
Broad: 10+ (12 of 14)
Hand Size: 9+ (10 of 10)
Short Shuttle: Sub 4.30 (7 of 9)
Three-Cone: Sub 7.10 (7 of 9)
Bench: 10+ (10 of 11)

And here are the four receivers who checked every single one of those boxes.

 

Name/School Height Weight Hand Size 40 Time Bench Vert Broad SS 3 Cone
Simi Fehoko/STAN 6037 222 10 1/4″ 4.44 16 34.5″ 10’0″ 4.26 6.78
Tim Jones/S. MISS 6006 203 9 1/2″ 4.47 17 40″ 10’4″ 4.14 7.02
Tre Nixon/UCF 6001 187 9 1/8″ 4.44 18 35.5″ 10’4″ 4.25 6.81
Ihmir Smith-Marsette/IOWA 6006 181 9 3/4″ 4.50 10 37″ 10’4″ 4.23 7.06

 

Not a ton of household names here. Fehoko is a height/weight/speed guy who had drop concerns in school. But we’re looking at Day 3 guys here. Smith-Marsette didn’t have a ton of production as a receiver but also offers kick return value, housing two of them at Iowa.

Here were the several players who missed in just one category.

Dyami Brown/North Carolina: Short Shuttle (4.35)
Rico Bussey/Hawaii: Three-Cone (7.21)
Ja’Marr Chase/LSU: Bench (DNP)
Nico Collins/Michigan: Short Shuttle (4.32)
Trevon Grimes/Florida: Broad Jump (9’10”)
Josh Palmer/Tennessee: Bench (DNP)
Amon-Ra St. Brown/USC: 40 (4.61)
Mike Strachan/Charleston: Short Shuttle (4.36)
Kadarius Toney/Florida: Bench (9)
Tylan Wallace/Oklahoma State: Broad Jump (9’4″)

Several good names on here. Some out of reach for the Steelers by the time they consider a wide receiver (Chase, Toney, Brown, probably Collins). Grimes is one of my favorite jump ball receivers in the draft, while Palmer might be the group’s top sleeper.

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