The Pittsburgh Steelers have a reputation of drafting well at the wide receiver position. Recently, they’ve found a star in the making in the second round in George Pickens, and before that, there was a long line of productive receivers the Steelers took outside of the first round. Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders, Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Diontae Johnson were all taken by the Steelers after the first day of the draft and have all seen relative success in the NFL. This year, they’ll have to work that magic better than ever before.

At the moment, the Steelers’ wide receiver room consists of Pickens and a host of players who are either unproven or journeymen. Luckily, this year’s draft crop of receivers is exceptional. Immediate contributors can be found well into the third round, and maybe even beyond. Nick Baumgardner, a draft analyst for The Athletic, recently broke down many of the fits between some of the wide receivers and the Steelers.

When asked what receiver could fall and be too good to pass up on for Pittsburgh, Baumgardner pointed to LSU’s Brian Thomas Jr. Thomas Jr. is viewed by many as the best receiver outside of the big three in Marvin Harrison Jr., Rome Odunze, and Malik Nabers. He’s also garnered some comparisons to George Pickens, with Baumgardner pointing out his big-time play making ability and incredible size and athleticism as strengths. While the team has bigger issues than receiver that need to be addressed in the first round, the board could always break in a way where Thomas is the best player available.

Baumgardner then talks about which receivers would pair best with Pickens, explaining how Pickens is a very versatile player and has a skill set that fits well with many different players. Specifically, he highlights Florida’s Ricky Pearsall and USC’s Tahj Washington as players with a lot of discipline and toughness, pointing out how few drops both players have had in their careers. The Steelers have met with both these players during the pre-draft process, so it’s entirely likely that one of them is drafted by Pittsburgh.

In terms of which players would fit best in Arthur Smith’s scheme, that being a more run-heavy approach, Baumgardner says that Florida State’s Johnny Wilson is the best blocking receiver in this draft class. Wilson is a massive human, standing close to 6-7 and weighing 231 pounds. He would provide the team with an edge in both the run and pass game.

For players who would work best with new quarterback Russell Wilson, Baumgardner stated that South Carolina’s Xavier Legette would be the best choice because of his explosive play ability. He also says that Oregon’s Troy Franklin fits that mold, as well as saying that UCF’s Javon Baker is sleeper to watch here because of his great vertical ability.

Baumgardner also spoke about Rice’s Luke McCaffrey being a Day 3 target for the Steelers. This makes sense if you think about how much of an emphasis the Steelers have put on NFL bloodlines in the past few years. McCaffrey is the brother of current superstar Christian McCaffrey and the son of former legend Ed McCaffrey. He isn’t just a name either. McCaffrey often displays the athleticism that his family is known for and would be a great option for Pittsburgh if it doesn’t prioritize receiver as much as other positions.

No matter what, it is obvious that the Steelers have numerous wide receiver options in the draft. Unless they pull off a trade or make a few more signings in free agency, they will have to weigh these options at some point. However, if there was any team that has earned trust in drafting receivers, it’s the Steelers. Anything is possible when it comes to the draft though.


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