By Josh Svetz
Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette certainly surprised fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers on April Fools day of all days when he reported that Indianapolis Colts free agent wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey was set to visit the Steelers April 2nd.
The perceived view of Heyward-Bey would be along the lines of “draft bust”. While you could easily argue that, it doesn’t mean he still can’t contribute to some degree for the Steelers.
Let’s examine what Heyward-Bey would bring to the Steelers if signed.
The first thing that the former first-round pick of the Oakland Raiders would bring to the team is speed as Heyward-Bey is still widely considered by many to be one of the faster players In the NFL. Heyward-Bey’s speed helped raise his draft stock when he ran a 4.30 at the 2009 NFL Scouting Combine and the late Al Davis took notice. In his four seasons in Oakland, that speed was on display as six of his 11 touchdowns that he scored with his former team came from 32 or more yards out.
Next, Heyward-Bey would provide size for the Steelers. At 6’2, 219 pounds, the Maryland product would give quarterback Ben Roethlisberger a tall, playmaking receiver that could occasional help stretch the field when called upon.
Third, signing Heyward Bey would offer a layer of depth protection should the Steelers not be able to land a wide receiver to their liking early on in the draft.
With all that said, what exactly is Heyward-Bey at this stage in his career?
Last season, Heyward-Bey was the No. 3 receiver for the Colts. In 13 games, he caught 29 passes, for 309 yards and one touchdown. He did, however, have nine drops, the most of his career. Unfortunately, acquiring Heyward-Bey means drops will likely come with him based on his track record.
At this stage in Heyward Bey’s career, he should be looked at as a potential No. 4 option with No. 3 ability. Signing him shouldn’t completely surprise everyone, especially if he’s brought in at the minimum.
Overall, the Steelers’ interest in Heyward-Bey does make some sense and especially if they feel like they can fix his drop problem. While his upside as a player is limited, adding him for the minimum as an extra training camp body would be a low risk move. If he doesn’t work out, he could easily be cut in training camp. If he does hang on, literally, it would give the Steelers experienced depth at a position where they could really use some.
We will see how the visit goes on Wednesday as Heyward-Bey attempts to prove that he should be a Steeler.