The Pittsburgh Steelers are not exactly set at the wide receiver position. The only one that fans even like is George Pickens, and at the moment, he’s primarily a jump-ball machine, not exactly a finished product. Diontae Johnson is one of the great route-runners in the game, but that’s about all he’s given credit for. Chase Claypool is gone—addition by subtraction, many would argue—and Calvin Austin III is coming off foot surgery when speed was his greatest asset.
So how could you not connect the dots to former Pitt wide receiver Jordan Addison, who at one point was Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett’s number-one target in college? Though he entered the portal and played at USC in 2022, he declared for the 2022 NFL Draft, and many fans would like to see the Pitt guys reunite.
Not everybody agrees. Certainly not Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, who thoroughly poo-pooed the idea in his latest chat for the paper’s website. Asked if the Steelers will want to pair the two up, he said, “Nope. And if they do, shame on them”. Here is the exact question, if greater context is needed: “Hey Gerry, do you think that the Steelers will want to pair Addison with Pickett even though wr isn’t a top need?”
Shame on them, if they look to draft Addison, who based on early draft projections may well have to be taken with their first-round draft pick. That perception could easily change by draft time, especially after the Combine, however, something we see literally every year with players’ stocks ‘rising’ and ‘falling’ despite doing nothing, merely having had more people watch their tape and having heard from more scouts about what they’re thinking.
Whether it’s Addison or somebody else, or on which day of the draft, however, there’s no doubt that the Steelers need to add to this wide receiver group. It would be foolish, for one thing, to take Austin as a given. He never even managed to play in a preseason game. We have no idea what he’ll look like or if he can compete in an NFL stadium, whether he is coming off a foot injury or not.
Almost nobody is high on Johnson at this point, either, and it would be a mistake to expect Pickens on his own to be the savior. It doesn’t have to be Addison. It doesn’t have to be in the first round. But it does have to be somebody.
Not somebody too early for Dulac, though. During another portion of the chat, he claimed that the Steelers “won’t draft a receiver high”, and again added a qualifier negating the authority of his previous statement by saying, “If they do, shame on them. Not before the 4th round”.
The Steelers do have a fourth-round pick this year, but none in the fifth and sixth rounds. They traded their 2023 fifth-round pick in 2021 for Ahkello Witherspoon. They have two seventh-round picks because they swapped for one along with Malik Reed in exchange for their sixth.
Addison caught 100 passes for 1,593 yards and 17 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2021 playing primarily with Pickett before transferring to USC and playing there in 2022. He didn’t put up the same numbers on the west coast, however, in an offense that spread the ball around. Four different receivers had 600-plus yards, his 875 leading the team, as did his eight touchdowns.