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Sunday, April 05, 2015

A look at the Steelers by position part III

As we continue our look at the Steelers by position, today we'll focus on the pass catchers.

It's a talented group to be sure.

In Antonio Brown, the Steelers might have the pound-for-pound best player in the NFL. A former sixth-round draft pick, Brown has emerged as one of the most dangerous receivers in the game and is still getting better, as scary as that sounds.

The only thing Brown lacks is size, but he makes up for that with his insane competitiveness and knack for getting open, even against double teams.

Markus Wheaton served as the No. 2 receiver last season and struggled at times with his timing with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. That will continue to get better. Wheaton is a hard worker who has high aspirations. He should be much better in his third season.

It took Martavis Bryant about half a season to earn the trust of the coaching staff and his teammates last season, but once he did, the rookie took off, catching 26 passes for 549 yards and eight touchdowns in nine games.

Just imagine what he'll do when he actually knows what he's doing.

Bryant's route tree was limited in 2014 and he didn't play a lot in no-huddle situations because of it, but with a full offseason and training camp, he'll be expected to be a much bigger part of the offense in 2015.

Veteran Lance Moore was cut loose following the season and never was much of a factor in 2014 to begin with. But his departure opens the door for Darrius Heyward-Bey to see an increased role in 20125.

Heyward-Bey had just three catches for 33 yards last season as the No. 5 receiver, but the former No. 1 pick of the Oakland Raiders does have a 900-yard season under his belt. He's good on special teams, and the Steelers could do worse for a No. 4 guy.

Of the other guys currently on the roster - Brelan Chancellor, C.J. Goodwin and L'Damian Washington - Goodwin is most well-known.

The former California University of Pennsylvania product spent the 2014 season on the practice squad and showed the ability to make acrobatic catches. Will that translate into a roster spot in 2015? Probably not, as the team will bring in some young talent to challenge.

At tight end, Heath Miller looks to be recovered from the knee injury that ended his 2013 season in Week 17. But it doesn't appear that he'll ever regain his former speed and explosiveness.

He's still a very solid receiving option and a willing blocker, but at some point, the Steelers have to consider looking for his replacement.

Veteran Matt Spaeth was brought back to serve as the No. 2 tight end and is excellent as a blocker but offers little as a receiving option.

Michael Palmer has not been re-signed at this point after serving as the No. 3 tight end last season. That leaves 2014 draft pick Rob Blanchflower and Michael Egnew as the only other tight ends on the roster.

Blanchflower spent the 2014 season on the practice squad and flashed some ability late in the season, while Egnew has a handful of games under his belt - playing in all 16 games and starting five for Miami in 2013. He has seven career receptions for 69 yards.

Again, a rookie will be brought in to add some competition to this group and that could come at any point in the draft if the value is right.


LexingtonLegend said...

I hope we get another WR somewhere. I don't like the idea of DHB trying to catch footballs.

datruth4life said...

Dale, Tre McBride in the 3rd or 4th round. Got Steelers written all over him. Remember this on draft day.

Dale Lolley said...

I have liked McBride for the Steelers for a while now Truth. You're not breaking any ground there. Got Tomlin pick written all over him

Dale Lolley said...

I will say this, though, in the past he has shied away from W&M guys because he thought it would be too much pressure on the kid.

adamg said...

Dale, how does a TE like Spaeth, a Mackey Award winner as best pass-catching TE in college, become only a blocker and not much of a receiver?

datruth4life said...

Dale, you know we think like-minded on many of these things. Still holding to this mock with less than 4 weeks to go:

1. CB K. Johnson, Wake Forest
2. OLB Nate Orchard, Utah
3. CB/S E. Rowe, Utah
4. WR T. McBride, William and Mary
5. TE J. James, Penn State
6. DT Derrick Lott, Tennessee-Chattanooga
6. OLB Kyle Emmanuel, North Dakota State
7. OT L. Gibson, Va. Tech

However, if KJ is gone, then the first 3 picks of my mock would probably change to:

2. CB/S E. Rowe, Utah
3. DE H. Anderson, Stanford

I think OO could be important to the Steelers at LOLB going fwd if the Ravens stick with Marshall Yanda at RT. I don't think Yanda will throw OO around like he did Worilds during the playoff game.

Anonymous said...

we'd need to pick rowe in the 2nd, if he's there

Anonymous said...

I sure as hell hope that Darrius Heyward-Bey doesn't see an increased role in 20125, or else we're in some trouble.

Dale Lolley said...

It just shows how much faster the pro game is. Spaeth just isn't fast enough to be a legit NFL threat.

adamg said...

Being a "threat" and catching passes are two different things. Heath Miller isn't a threat either, but he catches a lot of passes.

Heck, probably the last "legit threat" the Steelers had at TE was Benny Cunningham.

BlackNGold said...

I don't know adam, Eric Green was a threat in his brief time