In 7th Round, Steelers Draft Demarcus Ayers, Punter Returner/Wide Receiver of Houston

The need for a kick returner has been one of the less discussed Steelers 2016 Draft needs, but Pittsburgh may have used day three to address that. The 7th round of the 2016 NFL Draft saw the Steelers draft Demarcus Ayers, wide receiver out of Houston.

Given the Steelers depth at wide receiver, a 7th round pick would seem to have a long shot at making the team having to fight for a roster spot on a depth chart led by the like of Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Sammie Coates.

  • However, the Steelers don’t envision him catching a lot of passes from Ben Roethlisberger

In a telling move, the Steelers did not send out wide receivers coach Richard Mann to address the media, but rather trotted out special teams coach Danny Smith. Smith clarified the Steelers intentions:

This is a welcome sign. The Steelers have wanted to find a player who could relieve Antonio Brown of his punt return duties, and if Demarcus Ayers proves he can do that, he likely has his ticket to a spot on the 53 man roster.

The scouting report on Ayers claims he has good hands and can gain yards after the catch. He also has experience rushing the ball and even throwing it a little. Those are all good traits to have for a 7th round pick who is going to need to prove himself to earn a roster spot.

This highlight reel provides a deeper look at Demarcus Ayer’s punt returning ability:

While returning punts is far more difficult in the NFL than in the NCAA, it is no secret as to why Danny Smith is so excited to have Demarcus Ayers try out as a return man.

Whether it is as a wide out or as a punt returner, Demarcus Ayers will get a fair shot in Pittsburgh, and his chance begins at St. Vincents this summer.

Welcome to Steelers Nation Demarcus Ayers.

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