Mike Tomlin likes using premium picks on wide receivers. Or, if he doesn’t actually enjoy it, he’s certainly developed the habit of doing after having used first or second rounders on JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool and George Pickens in recent drafts.
Should the trend continue in 2023? Let’s take a look.
Steelers Depth Cart at Wide Receiver: The Starters
Fairly or unfairly, Diontae Johnson will always be the player the Steelers drafted to replace Antonio Brown. His career arch has been interesting since then. He had a strong rookie year in 2019, followed by 2020 when he led the NFL in drops. He bounced back and had a very strong 2021 logging 107 receptions for over 1160 yards and 8 touchdowns.
Looking around the league at the “mega contracts” other teams were giving wide receivers, Omar Khan opted to resign Diontae Johnson to a 2 year extension worth $36,710,000 dollars with 19 of that fully guaranteed.
Johnson’s performance in 2022 didn’t live up to the terms of the his contract, as his catch percentage dropped, he developed a nasty habit of running backwards after the catch, and didn’t pull in a touchdown.
Playing opposite Johnson is second year man George Pickens, who was a 2nd round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Pickens turned heads immediately at St. Vincents with some of his catches. He continued doing it when he got on the field during the season.
George Pickens only had 52 catches (remember when Louis Lipps would lead the Steelers in receiving with 50 catches?), but 4 of those were for touchdowns, and he displayed incredible ball skills in making them.
Steelers Wide Receiver Depth Chart: The Backups
The Steelers number three wide receiver is none other than Gunner Olszewski who has 14 receptions to his NFL name. To put that into perspective, he had 8 runs from scrimmage last season.
The Steelers also have Calvin Austin, 2022’s 4th round pick who spent his rookie year on injured reserve. Omar Khan has made it clear the Steelers are counting on him, and there’s every reason to take him at his word.
- The Steelers also have Anthony Miller who has 140 catches and 18 starts on his resume.
The Steelers 2023 Draft Needs @ Wide Receiver
Omar Khan has endorsed the Steelers wide receiving corps and Pittsburgh let Steven Sims walk in free agency when they easily could have kept him in the Steel City.
The Steelers do have two solid starters at wide receivers, and some decent potential behind, them, but its only potential so their need at wide receiver going into the 2023 NFL Draft should be considered as High.