Just 16 more days until the Pittsburgh Steelers report to Latrobe for training camp so today we continue on with our look at the training camp roster battles with our look at the wide receiver position.
Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery give the Steelers one of the best looking receiving units in the NFL right now. Wallace is of course still unsigned, but he figures to be in uniform by the time the start of the season rolls around at the latest. With those four players locked in stone, it means in all likelihood that only one more spot will be up for grabs on the 53 man roster for a wide receiver. The Steelers did keep 6 wide receivers last year as veteran Arnaz Battle made the team as a special teams warrior. With rookie running back Chris Rainey expected to make the 53 man roster, he can serve as an emergency receiver, so there seems no reason for six to kept at the position this year out of camp.
With one spot speculated to be up for grabs, there are seven wide receivers entering training camp fighting for it in Toney Clemons, Marquis Maze, Derrick Williams, Tyler Beiler, Juamorris Stewart, David Gilreath and Jimmy Young.
Let\’s have a look at those seven players.
Toney Clemons – Clemons, the first of the four seventh round picks the Steelers made this year, really jumped onto the radar down the stretch last season for Colorado. The 6-foot-2 receiver started his college career at Michigan before he made a bold move to transfer out west because of the changes that had been offensively at Michigan due to the coaching unrest. In his two years at Colorado, Clemons recorded 86 catches for 1,162 yards and 11 touchdowns. His final five games is what caught the eyes of the scouts as he registered 25 catches good for 476 yards and 5 touchdowns to close out his college career. He also showed during that span of games his ability to make combative catches as well as his ability to high point the ball and use his body to his advantage. Clemons is regarded as a physical receiver and is a very willing blocker. What he has lacked up until this point is consistent coaching with all of the changes made at both Michigan and Colorado. He will get that at the next level and he will likely spend his rookie season contributing mostly on special teams assuming he makes the 53 man roster. He has tremendous upside.
Marquis Maze – Maze was signed by the Steelers as an undrafted free agent. He is undersized at just shy of 5-foot-8 but with that small stature comes some elusiveness. During his career at Alabama he totaled 136 catches for 1844 yards and 8 touchdowns. He also returned 56 punts for 711 yards and a touchdown and 21 kickoffs for 550 yards in addition. Although he is elusive, Maze lacks the quickness that you would expect from a player his size. He also lacks discipline in his route running and his hands are questionable at times. He is not very physical and is best served as a slot receiver and return man. His best shot at making the 53 man roster would be as a return man, but he has an uphill battle in that regard. In reality the Alabama product might be fighting for a spot on the practice squad baring injuries to the wide receiver group ahead of him.
Derrick Williams – This figures to be the last chance for the former Penn State receiver who was originally drafted by the Detroit Lions in the third round of the 2009 draft. Williams played in 11 games during his rookie season in 2009 and caught six passes for 85 yards. He also had 42 kickoff returns for 931 yards, but also had two fumbles. In 2010 he had just 3 catches for 30 yards as a reserve receiver. His 2010 season ended with him being on the Lions injured reserve list with an ankle injury. Williams does not have practice squad eligibility, so he has to make the 53 man roster to stick in Pittsburgh and that means he must most likely beat out Clemons for the spot. That is going to be a tough chore.
Tyler Beiler – Beiler is a 6 foot receiver out of Bridgewater who went undrafted in 2011. He signed on with the San Francisco 49ers following the lockout, but failed to make the team. Beiler had 61 catches for 1,342 yards with 16 touchdowns and added 657 return yards and a touchdown during his senior season at Bridgewater. He also led the Division III in receiving yards per game and all-purpose yards. He possesses good speed and a great vertical jump and reportedly showed some flashes during the Steelers offseason program. He might be the next Tyler Grisham for the Steelers and that means he could be a candidate for the practice squad with a strong training camp and preseason.
Juamorris Stewart – Stewart, was signed to a futures contract this offseason by the Steelers. He went undrafted in 2011 and was signed by the Arizona Cardinals following the lockout, but did not stick. Stewart possesses strong hands and a wide catching radius, but lacks any dominant physical traits. He is considered a long strider, but one that struggles to get off of the line and into his routes. He lacks speed and is pretty much just a camp body headed into Latrobe. His best case scenario would be to make the practice squad, but even that should be considered a long shot.
David Gilreath – Gilreath is another player that went undrafted in 2011. He was signed by the Indianapolis Colts and showed enough to make their practice squad initially. He was released by Colts though in October and bounced around from there to the practice squads of both the St. Louis Rams and the Buffalo Bills. During his four years at Wisconsin he registered just 67 catches for 1,077 yards and 4 touchdowns. He did however contribute greatly as a return man in college with 135 kickoff returns for 3,025 yards and 73 punt returns for another 721 yards. Gilreath is quick, but undersized. He is not very physical and his best shot at making any team or practice squad would be as a return man. In short, he is just another camp body.
Jimmy Young – Young also went undrafted in 2011 out of TCU, where he played with current Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. He signed on as an undrafted free agent with the Chicago Bears following the lockout, but failed to make their roster or the practice squad. Young was thought by many to have some upside out of college because of his size and short area burst, but his hands, deep speed and ability to separate off of the line make him just another camp body. At best he is a candidate for the practice squad, but that is as far as it goes with him.
In summation this looks really to be Clemons spot to lose. While many think that Maze will be the one to push Clemons in camp, I think that distinction goes to Beiler and Williams instead. Stewart, Gilreath and Young at best are practice squad candidates. Baring any injuries to the locked in top four, I expect Clemons to make the roster as the fifth and Beiler to have the best shot at a practice squad spot.
Previous Training Camp Roster Battle Post
2012 Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Roster Battles: Defensive Ends
2012 Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Roster Battles: Tight Ends
2012 Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Roster Battles: Kickers
2012 Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Roster Battles: Cornerbacks
2012 Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Roster Battles: Safeties
2012 Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Roster Battles: Running Backs
2012 Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Roster Battles: Nose Tackles