Earlier this offseason, there were reports that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was working with his young receivers to help develop some chemistry with them, knowing that it would be needed this year.
Chief among them, of course, was second-year third-round draft pick Markus Wheaton, who figures to get the first opportunity to fill Emmanuel Sanders’ vacated spot in the starting lineup after he signed with the Denver Broncos.
But Roethlisberger wasn’t just playing pitch and catch with Wheaton. Also out there working were Derek Moye and Justin Brown.
Moye, of course, spent last season on the 53-man roster and even caught a redzone touchdown out from the two-yard line on a jump ball. He also dropped another touchdown opportunity, but either way, it’s a small sample size.
What Moye is not, though, is small. The former Penn State wide receiver stands at 6’5”. Brown is no smurf either at 6’3”, but Moye’s success came at his suspense, as Brown was forced to spend his rookie season on the practice squad.
The workouts supposedly went well, and the Steelers were reportedly satisfied with Brown’s development during the course of the season, but will there be room for either one of them on the 2014 roster?
This is what Jim Wexell of Steel City Insider recently wondered, and it’s easy to see why after the Steelers added both Lance Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey. Of course, the latter signed for a veteran-minimum contract and is not a lock to make the roster.
But with the impending drafting of at least one wide receiver early in the upcoming draft, if not more, one would have to think that the two of them could be on the outside looking in.
Antonio Brown is obviously at the top of the depth chart, etched in stone. Wheaton is penciled in as the starter opposite Brown, while Moore will be in the slot. A rookie draft pick would figure to be not much further down the depth chart than this, and Heyward-Bey will likely tuck in right beneath there.
The Steelers typically carry five wide receivers unless a sixth receiver is a significant contributor on special teams, but that hasn’t been the case since Arnaz Battle was a part of the team. Neither Moye nor Brown can be described as such, though they both have seen time in the third phase of the game.
Of course, it’s still April. The Heyward-Bey signing was modest at best with no guarantee. And the drafting of a receiver is an assumption—albeit an educated one. But one can’t help but wonder if the offseason trajectory of the position says anything about how the organization views Moye and Brown, and whether they are a part of their future.