The regular season marks the culmination of an extensive investigation into who your team will be that year. By this point, you’ve gone through free agency, the draft, training camp, and the preseason. You feel good in your decisions insofar as you can create clarity without having played meaningful games. But there are still plenty of uncertainties that remain, whether at the start of the regular season or the end, and new ones continually develop over time.
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: Wide receiver Steven Sims will eventually replace Ray-Ray McCloud on the 53-man roster.
Explanation: Among the numerous outside players the Steelers added to their practice squad this year was third-year wide receiver Steven Sims, who spent his first two seasons in the league with the Washington Football Team. There, as an undrafted rookie, he had current Steelers wide receivers coach Ike Hilliard as his position coach. His game bears some similarities to Ray-Ray McCloud, including return ability.
There’s nothing really that McCloud offers that Sims does not, and arguably, Sims has a higher upside. He is a more polished offensive player, for one thing, with better and more reliable hands and more nuanced routes.
Sims caught 214 passes for 2582 yards and 19 touchdowns during his college career. McCloud was more of a gadget player in a Clemson offense. The only reason that McCloud ultimately made the team is because of his return ability, but Sims can do that as well. He averaged 25.6 yards per kick return as a rookie in 2019, leading the NFL with 32 kick returns, one of which went for a touchdown.
First of all, while there might not be a ton of wiggle room, Sims can still make it to the 53-man roster without knocking McCloud off, even if it is less likely barring something significant such as an injury, or if they eventually trade James Washington.
It should also be noted that McCloud has made strides in his skill set since coming out of Clemson, a school that isn’t necessarily known for developing technique in the many quality wide receivers they do produce. Even JuJu Smith-Schuster said in the Spring that McCloud is the second-best slot on the team, behind himself.
McCloud as a borderline Pro Bowl return man last year, and they’re not about to walk away from that, given how much they’ve struggled there in recent years. Sims would have to really impress significantly, and maybe even get an in-season ‘trial’ via the practice squad elevation process, before he displaces anybody.