With the departure of wide receivers Juju Smith-Schuster and Ray-Ray McCloud, the Steelers now have an open spot next to the already young and dangerous combo of Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool. How will they fill that spot you ask? One might suggest free agency, but at this point, the free-agent pool is quite picked through. So that leaves the Steelers in a spot that has treated them well in the past. The draft.
This year’s draft is loaded with wide-out talent, and with a strong free agency. The Steelers will be very flexible with what position they can choose in the first couple of rounds. If they have a “must-have” name on the whiteboard, you can take him in the first round. But not locked into a WR in round one at the same time. While it would be nice to get a guy like Jahan Dotson from Penn State in round one, Coach T might have other plans.
The National Champion
The Steelers met with Georgia wide receiver George Pickens not only once, but twice at the NFL combine. The 6-foot-3, 200 pound wide outran a 4.47 40 yard dash and showed a 33-inch vertical jump. Pittsburgh then sent Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert to his Pro Day. WR coach Frisman Jackson was putting him through drills. Pickens appears to show all the physical tools to be a great receiver at the next level and could be sitting pretty for the Steelers at pick 52.
Another name in the draft pool that the Steelers could target is the New Kensington, PA native himself Skyy Moore. The 5-foot-10 195-pound receiver just wrapped up a great season at Western Michigan. He grabbed 95 receptions for 1,292 yards and 10 touchdowns. Moore boasted a 4.41 40 yard dash with a 34.5 vertical jump at this year’s combine, comparative numbers to Pickens. Coach T won’t have to look far for information on Moore, as he and Tomlin’s son, Dino grew up together. Moore has even referred to the opportunity to be drafted by Pittsburgh as “A storybook ending”. If the Steelers want Moore, it will most likely have to be at 52 as well.
Just like Moore, there is another Pennsylvanian prospect that the Steelers are sure to have an eye on. Jahan Dotson from Penn State is slated to be a late first-round pick after a dominant season at Penn State. He posted 91 receptions, 1.182 yards, and 12 touchdowns. Dotson would kill it next to Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool.
Scouts at the combine raved about Dotson’s speed and agility while also having great speed variance. He ran a 4.43 40 yard dash and showed a 36-inch vertical jump. While Dotson isn’t the most physically imposing receiver, scouts have also raved about his strong hands. With 9.5-inch hands, Dotson will be able to battle defenders at the catch point better than most receivers. If Coach T really wants to give Mitch Trubisky options, Dotson will be the pick at 20.
Ohio State receivers Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave have shown they can be first-round picks. Now the question is will they both be? Very comparable in size, Olave comes in at 6 foot 187 pounds and Wilson 6 foot 183 pounds. Olave showed off his big highlight potential last season at Ohio State. He gathered 65 receptions for 936 yards and 13 touchdowns. Combine scouts reported Olave as a receiver that is great at finding the open field when the play breaks down.
With a mobile quarterback like Mitch Trubisky, the Steelers would benefit from this. Trubisky will be able to get out and extend plays, unlike Big Ben in his final years. Olave and Wilson also ran very comparable 40-yard dashes, Olave at 4.39 and Wilson at 4.38. Wilson bested Olave in the stats battle last year though, posting 70 receptions, 1,058 yards, and 12 touchdowns. Scouts at the combine loved Wilson’s deceptive speed and consistent separation. Potential to see both Buckeye boys shake Commissioner Goodell’s hand in the first round. Could one be hoisting a Steeler jersey?
Now that you’ve read up on the Buckeye boys, meet the Bama boys. Had to know it was coming right? Starting with Jameson Williams, the Crimson Tide’s 6-feet-2 179-pound receiver who hauled in 79 receptions for 1,572 yards and 15 touchdowns before a torn ACL shook up his season, off-season, and even draft stock. Many analysts can’t seem to peg where Williams will go. It seems to be somewhere from the late first round into the second round.
Unfortunately, he was unable to participate in the combine. Williams was a record-breaking high school hurdler so he has the jumping and size, along with that big-play potential. Williams can blow by corners with ease, which was seen at Alabama when he led the nation with 11 touchdowns of 30+ yards.
John Metchie III from Alabama has been a name that has floated around as a steal in a later round. Like his counterpart Williams, Metchie’s season was also hampered by injury. But not before he amassed 96 receptions, 1.192 yards, and eight touchdowns. Metchie was also not able to participate in the combine which gives scouts a tough read on him. His tape shows that he’s a good, tough route runner with good Yards After Catch potential. Could be getting a steal in round three or four with Metchie.
The last receiver that it seems could be a Steeler is Treylon Burks out of Arkansas. A unit, Burks stands at 6-feet-2 225 pounds with ten-inch hands. Scouts are in love with Burks and his premium size and speed. Burks ran a 4.55 40 yards dash with a 33 inch vertical. He finished up his season at Arkansas with 66 receptions, 1,104 yards, and 11 touchdowns including eight catches for 179 yards against SEC powerhouse Alabama. Burks is the most physically imposing of Pittsburgh’s options. This could be exactly what Tomlin and Colbert are looking for after the departure of Smith-Schuster.
As previously mentioned, having a great free agency has made the Steelers very flexible in this draft. Fans at home could see them take a receiver in any of the first four rounds. With the Steelers’ track record of drafting receivers, it will be a gem.