By Jeremy Hritz
If the Pittsburgh Steelers are in the market for a wide receiver early in the 2013 NFL Draft, these are six names worth paying attention to as the offseason wears on. At pick 17, the Steelers should have a shot at all five of the following players.
Keenan Allen, California
Not a speedster, but Allen is a big target at 6’3 who can make the difficult catch in traffic and is unafraid of going across the middle. Elusive enough to make defenders miss in the open field, Allen can find open areas in defenses. Was recruited by Nick Saban to play safety at Alabama. While Allen will not stretch the field, he can use his vision and wiggle to turn short catches into big plays. While he would not replace the deep threat that the Steelers are losing in Mike Wallace, his size and sure-hands could be alluring.
Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
Patterson is somewhat of an enigma in this year’s draft being that he only played one season of major college football at Tennessee. Prior to that, he spent two years at Hutchinson Community College where he caught 113 balls for 1832 yards and 24 touchdowns. His one season at Tennessee was not tremendously productive, only accounting for five touchdowns on 46 catches, hardly the stuff of top flight NFL receivers. Patterson is seen as a prospect that has the size/speed combination to stretch defenses and to create the big play down the field. Because of the lack of experience playing the wide receiver position at the DI level, Patterson has real bust potential.
DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson
Hopkins had a solid year in 2012, catching 82 balls for 1405 yards, and he had a monster game against LSU in the Chik-fil-A Bowl, grabbing 13 catches for 191 yards and two touchdowns. Hopkins has good hands and body control, and is aggressive in going after the catch. Curiously, his coach at Clemson, Dabo Swinney, questioned Hopkins decision to leave school early and enter the draft, feeling he could have benefited from another year. Not a burner, but an all-around solid prospect.
Tavon Austin, West Virgnia
Ultra-productive receiver and returner at West Virginia, Austin is shifty and has undeniable speed. He can make defenders miss, yet he does not possess the size to out-jump and out-physical defensive backs for the deep ball. While Austin would upgrade the Steelers return units, his style of play is similar to that of Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders, which makes the possibility that the Steelers would select him low.
Terrance Williams, Baylor
Williams is a 6\'2 target that generally gets good releases off the line of scrimmage. He uses his frame well to shield defenders and is regarded as an above average blocker on the outside. He has quick feet but is mostly regarded as an outside receiver and is not well versed in a variety of routes. Much like Wallace, Williams is more of a body pass catcher than a hands catcher. The Baylor product had 957 receiving yards, 11 touchdowns as a junior in 2011, and led the entire country in receiving yards his senior year.
Justin Hunter, Tennessee
Let’s preface the discussion of potential wide receiver picks of the Steelers by acknowledging that they are in need of size at the position. While not a thickly built player, Hunter is rangy at 6’4, and his size is something that would be attractive to the team. Described as competitive but not physical, Hunter has the ability to stretch defenses. Tore his ACL in 2011, but recovered fully in 2012 and caught 73 balls for over 1000 yards.
|Player||College||Height||Weight||40 Time||Career Recs||Career Yds||Career TDs||YPC||Draft Proj.|
|Keenan Allen||California||6’3||210||4.53||205||2570||17||12.5||1st Round|
|Cordarrelle Patterson||Tennessee||6’3||205||4.46||46||778||5||16.9||1st Round|
|DeAndre Hopkins||Clemson||6’1||200||4.49||205||3009||27||14.6||2nd Round|
|Tavon Austin||West Virginia||5’8||173||4.4||288||3413||29||11.8||2nd Round|
|Terrance Williams||Baylor||6\'2||205||4.49||201||3294||27||16.5||2nd Round|
|Justin Hunter||Tennessee||6’4||205||4.49||106||1812||18||17.1||2nd Round|