In 2018, the Pittsburgh Steelers will roll out a trio of very good receivers in Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Martavis Bryant. Those guys will be backed by a veteran in Darius Heyward-Bey. Typically, a core of receivers like that wouldn’t be messed with and you’d leave it the same.
That shouldn’t stop the Steelers from taking a mid-round flyer on a wideout in the NFL Draft.
The Steelers have some glaring needs on defense. It’s likely they will use their first two, maybe even three, picks on a defensive player. Between linebacker and safety, the Steelers don’t have much depth. They will address that with the early round picks in the draft.
The Steelers surprised a lot of people by taking Smith-Schuster with their second round pick last year despite some other needs that were more glaring. They took the best player available. After the first three rounds this year, the Steelers should take the same strategy.
With Bryant entering the final year of his contract and not expected to re-sign with the team after the season, the Steelers would be wise to begin looking for a young replacement that can be groomed into a starting wide receiver in the league after Bryant’s departure.
It’s tough to cover someone like Bryant because of his height and his ability to catch the ball and explode and run after the catch for a long time. He is a tough player to replace and it won’t be easy when he likely tests the market at season’s end.
In Brown and Smith-Schuster, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has an elite wide receiver and a receiver already regarded one of the best blockers in football after just one season. If Bryant leaves, the Steelers may want another tall option like him or maybe just another elite potential receiver to keep defense on their toes.
The Steelers will want to give Roethlisberger all the weapons they can as his career is only getting closer to the end with each passing year. When they address the absolute positions of need, it can’t hurt to take a chance on a mid-round receiver with some height that can go up and get the ball when the other options are covered. Don’t be surprised if they begin looking for a Bryant replacement in the draft.