2022 Offseason Questions: Would Steelers Benefit More From Great Slot Or Deep Threat WR?

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 season is over, already eliminated from the postseason after suffering a 42-21 loss at the hands of Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. They just barely made the postseason with a 9-7-1 record and a little help from their friends.

This is an offseason of major change, with the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger, the possible retirement of general manager Kevin Colbert, and the decisions about the futures of many important players to be made, such as Joe Haden, Stephon Tuitt, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and others—some already decided, some not.

Aside from exploring their options at the quarterback position, the top global priority, once again, figures to be addressing the offensive line, which they did not do quite adequately enough a year ago. Dan Moore Jr. looks like he may have a future as a full-time starter, but Kendrick Green was clearly not ready. Chukwuma Okorafor was re-signed, but Trai Turner was not. James Daniels and Mason Cole were added in free agency.

These are the sorts of topics 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. There is rarely a concrete answer, but this is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all their uncertainty.

Question: Would the Steelers benefit more right now from a great slot receiver or a great deep threat?

The Steelers haven’t had a great deep threat since Martavis Bryant’s first couple of seasons. JuJu Smith-Schuster had his moments as a great slot receiver. Right now, they don’t have a great option at either role, with Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool as their two starters who fall into neither the slot nor deep threat category.

It is widely expected that the Steelers will draft a wide receiver, and potentially one very early. But when they do, the question is, would they more substantially benefit right now by drafting a player with great deep-threat traits or one who has great skills in the slot?

Having a great deep threat really opens up your offense in ways that nothing else does by expanding the amount of space a defense credibly has to account for. Having a great slot receiver makes better use of the space that you do force a defense to cover.

As it stands, Mitch Trubisky is the Steelers’ starting quarterback, and he’s not a great deep thrower anyway, so my initial inclination is that they would be better served by replacing Smith-Schuster with somebody who can be top notch out of the slot. But bringing in a very talented deep threat my bear greater fruit in the long run, and guys like Johnson, Claypool, and even Miles Boykin can occasionally get behind the defense.

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