Steelers Would Probably Be Wise To Avoid Drafting A Wide Receiver In Round One

According to several of the major media draftniks, this year’s draft class is deep when it comes to the wide receiver position. With that being said, there still figures to be four or five drafted in the first round come next Thursday night. Will the Pittsburgh Steelers be one of those teams to draft a wide receiver in round one?

Recently, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel polled 17 personnel men with national responsibilities to name their five top wide receivers and as Bob McGinn reports, a first-place vote was worth five points, a second was worth four and so forth. The results below probably aren’t that shocking.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Wide Receiver Poll Results

Player Points
Sammy Watkins 83
Mike Evans 59
Odell Beckham 55
Brandin Cooks, 25
Marqise Lee 22
Jordan Matthews 3
Kelvin Benjamin 2
Cody Latimer 2
Paul Richardson 2
Davante Adams 1
Shaquelle Evans 1

Judging by those rankings, one would think that there will be at least four wide receivers drafted in round one with Marqise Lee possibly being the fifth. That means there’s likely going to be some decent wide receivers drop to not only the second round, but round three as well.

As you likely noticed, Donte Moncrief, Jarvis Landry, Allen Robinson and Martavis Bryant unsurprisingly failed to receive any top-five votes and I believe there’s a decent chance that at least of three of those four players stay on the board until round three.

Being as it’s supposedly such a deep class this year, I have a feeling the Steelers will wait to draft a wide receiver until round two or three unless Mike Evans falls. For starters, a rookie wide receiver in Pittsburgh isn’t likely to see much playing time in his first season and on top of that, history really hasn’t been overly kind to the position when comes to finding an All-Pro in round one.

As you can see in the sortable table below, there’s been 38 wide receivers drafted in the first round over the course of the last 10 years and only four of those players have achieved All-Pro status. In reality, that number is only three as Cordarrelle Patterson was honored as a kick returner and not a wide receiver.

Sure, there are a lot of talented former first-rounders listed below, but I think most of you would agree that most of these players never lived up to their expectations as it relates to where they were selected.

Of the 26 wide receivers on this list that were drafted prior to 2010, four never reached the 100 reception mark, while 12 more are still under the 300 reception mark.

Interesting enough, during the Kevin Colbert era, the Steelers have drafted a wide receiver in the first round only two times. In 2006, Santonio Holmes was selected with the 25th overall pick, but was the first wide receiver off the board. In 2000, Plaxico Burress was the 8th overall selection and the second wide receiver off the board. It should also be noted that neither of those two players saw a second contract with the Steelers as Holmes was traded prior to entering his final year of his rookie contract and Burress was allowed to walk off via free agency when his rookie deal expired.

Another interesting note about both Holmes and Burress is the fact that in the nine combined seasons that they played in Pittsburgh, neither cracked the 80 reception barrier in a single regular season and combined, they had a lowly 53% completion ratio.

The Steelers have tried to insulate themselves this offseason when it comes to wide receiver position by signing Lance Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey and while neither player fixes long term issues when it comes to depth at the position, it does help when it comes to the 2014 season. When you factor that into all of the above, it makes sense for the Steelers to stay away from drafting a wide receiver in the first round next week.

2004-2013 First Round Wide Receivers

Year Rnd Pick Tm Player AP1 PB G Rec Yds TD School HGT WGT
2004 1 3 ARI Larry Fitzgerald 1 8 156 846 11367 87 Pittsburgh 6027 225
2004 1 7 DET Roy Williams 0 1 115 393 5715 44 Texas 6024 211
2004 1 13 BUF Lee Evans 0 0 117 381 6008 43 Wisconsin 5107 197
2004 1 29 ATL Michael Jenkins 0 0 130 354 4427 25 Ohio St. 6044 217
2004 1 15 TAM Michael Clayton 0 0 95 223 2955 10 LSU 6026 209
2004 1 9 JAX Reggie Williams 0 0 79 189 2322 18 Washington 6036 225
2004 1 31 SFO Rashaun Woods 0 0 14 7 160 1 Oklahoma St. 6021 202
2005 1 27 ATL Roddy White 1 4 141 685 9436 55 Ala-Birmingham 6012 207
2005 1 3 CLE Braylon Edwards 0 1 112 359 5522 40 Michigan 6027 210
2005 1 22 BAL Mark Clayton 0 0 83 260 3448 14 Oklahoma 5103 193
2005 1 21 JAX Matt Jones 0 0 54 166 2153 15 Arkansas 6060 242
2005 1 10 DET Mike Williams 0 0 56 127 1526 5 USC 6045 229
2005 1 7 MIN Troy Williamson 0 0 49 87 1131 4 South Carolina 6013 203
2006 1 25 PIT Santonio Holmes 0 0 103 381 5963 36 Ohio St. 5105 188
2007 1 2 DET Calvin Johnson 3 4 106 572 9328 66 Georgia Tech 6050 239
2007 1 23 KAN Dwayne Bowe 0 1 103 472 6401 44 LSU 6022 221
2007 1 9 MIA Ted Ginn 0 0 104 197 2604 11 Ohio St. 5112 178
2007 1 27 NOR Robert Meachem 0 0 92 171 2800 27 Tennessee 6020 214
2007 1 32 IND Anthony Gonzalez 0 0 40 99 1307 7 Ohio St. 6000 193
2007 1 30 SDG Craig Davis 0 0 26 51 558 2 LSU 6011 200
2009 1 29 NYG Hakeem Nicks 0 0 70 311 4622 27 North Carolina 6006 212
2009 1 22 MIN Percy Harvin 0 1 55 281 3319 20 Florida 5111 192
2009 1 10 SFO Michael Crabtree 0 0 63 279 3629 22 Texas Tech 6013 215
2009 1 19 PHI Jeremy Maclin 0 0 59 258 3453 26 Missouri 6001 198
2009 1 7 OAK Darrius Heyward-Bey 0 0 72 169 2380 12 Maryland 6015 210
2009 1 30 TEN Kenny Britt 0 0 57 157 2450 19 Rutgers 6027 218
2010 1 24 DAL Dez Bryant 0 1 59 293 4104 40 Oklahoma St. 6020 224
2010 1 22 DEN Demaryius Thomas 0 2 53 240 3698 30 Georgia Tech 6032 224
2011 1 4 CIN A.J. Green 0 3 47 260 3833 29 Georgia 6035 211
2011 1 6 ATL Julio Jones 0 1 34 174 2737 20 Alabama 6026 220
2011 1 26 KAN Jonathan Baldwin 0 0 33 44 607 2 Pittsburgh 6043 228
2012 1 20 TEN Kendall Wright 0 0 31 158 1705 6 Baylor 5102 196
2012 1 13 ARI Michael Floyd 0 0 32 110 1603 7 Notre Dame 6025 220
2012 1 5 JAX Justin Blackmon 0 0 20 93 1280 6 Oklahoma St. 6007 207
2012 1 30 SFO A.J. Jenkins 0 0 19 8 130 0 Illinois 6002 190
2013 1 27 HOU DeAndre Hopkins 0 0 16 52 802 2 Clemson 6010 214
2013 1 29 MIN Cordarrelle Patterson 1 1 16 45 469 4 Tennessee 6017 216
2013 1 8 STL Tavon Austin 0 0 13 40 418 4 West Virginia 5084 174
  • dkoy85

    That is an interesting graph. Hard to ignore it. However the receiver I want at 1.15 is not a receiver I need to make the pro bowl every year, let alone be and AP. I know it’s expected for a 1st round talent to become elite all around, but right now I want elite in the red zone. Here’s to hoping the Steelers trade back and have the ammo to trade up in the 2nd round if Benjamin falls that far.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Fact: Pittsburgh usually waits until round 3 or later picking WR and has been successful. Fact: 30% of the underclassmen this year are WR’s. This draft is deep, even deeper than expected.

    However, if the Steelers believe they can get their hands on a truly special guy, they will pull the trigger. Benjamin is the only guy that might cause them to behave differently and jump on him in round 1. I agree that odds are they wait until later to draft WR, even if it’s only round 2 or 3.

    By the way, you should look at the leading WR’s of just last year and you will find that 6 of the top 7 are considered pretty big, being at least 6’2″. AB was the only one on the list that was considerably shorter. There is plenty of speed on the team, it is definitely time to add someone who is pretty solid, the type of guy that won’t easily be muscled off the ball. Insert name here………..

  • Chad H

    We have to go defense in round 1. I am high on Jordan Matthews in rd 2. He is a bigger receiver with good hands and speed to separate. I don’t see separation from Benjamin in the NFL. We need to compare Benjamin to Calvin Johnson and sorry he doesn’t even come close to being a Calvin Johnson.

  • corduroyninja

    Burress was drafted in 2000*

  • Steelers12328882

    Markus Wheaton better play well this year, and he better not have problems with those damn fingers either.

  • chris ward

    So much depth in this years WR class. Think Steelers should go CB in round 1, Fuller, Dennard, Gilbert at least one or two should still be on the board. Then go WR in the second, where there is still a lot of quality WR’s to pick from.

  • Wheres the Kelvin Benjamin guy?

  • Josh

    Hard to complain about Santonio Holmes. Clutch when he needed to be.

  • 20Stoney

    I am definitely warming to the idea of Fuller and cooled on Gilbert at this point. My gut feeling is that Dennard is not going to be there.

  • Jason Vancil

    I would love a trade down to Green Bay @ 21. Green Bay has Comp picks and their own picks in Rounds 3 & 5 so, they might be willing to trade their 3rd and 5th to move up for someone. Fuller or Dennard available at 21.

  • I’m not against getting more picks, but that would be a little risky if you wanted one of those 2 players for sure bc they could both be gone by 21.

  • John Hinton

    Whichever one we get, I hope he turns out to be the next Revis or Sherman type of CB.

  • StrengthOfVictory

    I get it. This draft class is deep at WR. And while I’m not necessarily against the Steelers waiting to draft a receiver until the second or third round, one major point being overlooked is that the Steelers probably have a select few very specific players in mind that they want.

    We can sit here (like we’re doing a fantasy draft) and say, “Oh, well if Matthews is still there, take him in the second.” But it’s not that simple. The Steelers are targeting “their” guys and ONLY those guys. And if the player they want most at WR requires a first-round pick, they’ll use it to get him.

  • I have actually warmed up to odell beckham jr. He would be the only wr I would be ok with them sitting at 15 and picking if Mike Evens was off the board. I know he is not a tall wr but he is explosive in and out of breaks with great deep speed and very good/big hands (10″, bigger than evens). Not tall like Evens but great Vertical. Good route runner. If it wasn’t for Evens height and jump ball ability beckham would be better……and to be honest he probably actually is overall better even without those traits. I know I have been wanting a tall wr to go with AB along with alot of other fans, but the question I asked myself when I started to really look into beckham is would I take 2 Antonio Browns…..and of course my answer was heck yeah, and that is exactly who beckham reminds me of.

    With having said all of that; with the depth in this draft at the wr position, it might be a smarter move to take that CB in rd1 and add the wr in rd2….especially if no CBs have come off the board at that point. However, the thing that worries me about CB is the importance of a pass rush no matter who is on the backend, and if our pass rush does not improve significantly next season QB’s will still pick apart our secondary.

  • Sack Master

    I agree completely, Chad. Ideally, for me, Dennard 1st and Matthews 2nd. DE and OLB 3rd and 4th.

  • Sack Master

    Until his knucklehead tendencies finally surfaced.

  • Steelers12328882

    You could make a case for avoiding any position in the 1st rd. Might as well just trade the pick then. Has the last 10 years of 1st rd. CBs faired so much better than WRs as far as All-Pros go? Would a 1st rd. CB see significantly more playing time the first year than a WR would? I think Burress and Holmes were great picks as well despite not signing second contracts. I also think the Steelers made a mistake by not going after Cordarrelle Patterson last year and instead waiting for Wheaton in the 3rd. Who knows, we might’ve made the playoffs last year with a difference maker like Patterson at kick returner and serving as the 4th receiver and offensive specialist.

  • You can get that in the 2nd, even without Benjamin.

  • This is one of the things I have been saying all along.

  • cp72

    I have been beating the drum for Benjamin. If we can get him in the 2nd round that’s great. If we go Dennard then Benjamin that sounds pretty awesome to me. I personally don’t see him making it to 46. Two scenarios seem likely

    Scenario 1
    15 Benjamin or Beckham
    46 Tuitt or Verrett

    Scenario 2
    15 Fuller or Dennard
    46 Robinson or Bryant

    I could personally live with any of the combos above.

  • SFIC

    It will depend on what happens….there is a really good chance that 3 WR’s will be gone before we pick (Watkins, Evans & Beckham). If this happens, it could spark a run. Cooks, Lee, Matthews, Benjamin & Latimer could all potentially go in rd 1. This could mess up Rd 2 with teams panicking and reaching for WR’s before the best remaining ones are gone. We might be targeting a WR in the 3rd (comp) but might need to reach and take him in the 2nd or move up in the 3rd. So, although I would prefer not to take a WR at 15, I would hate to see a 1st rd run on WR’s.

  • steelster

    Verrett will be a slot corner and Bryant had a 12 percent drop rate, no thanks.

  • cp72

    Not giving you my evaluation of players just saying guys we have shown interest in that may be there when we pick.

    BTW don’t say slot corner like it’s a dirty word. As much time as defenses spend in the nickel and dime a slot corner is pretty much a starter.

  • dkoy85

    True- But I think Benjamin brings it better than anybody else in the draft. IMO he can be elite in the RZ.

  • He has more upside, yes, but I think that Davonte Adams and at least one other WR (whose name escapes me) are just a dangerous and can be had later. Adams is a beast in the RZ as well and scored 11 RZ TDs last year. The kid is great at going up after the ball.

  • Your last paragraph is an important point, but I hate the idea of them picking a guy based on size alone. Like the article posted here the other day showed, guys play to different sizes. The tallest WR in this draft has short arms and a horrible vertical so shorter guys can get up higher…

    I think anyone over 6’1″ or so is plenty tall enough if they can run routes, go up after the ball, and have solid hands.

  • Josh

    Yeah, agreed. But I’d gladly spend a first rounder on securing a 6th Super Bowl victory (he was key throughout the playoffs that year, let alone the final drive).

  • Yeah, I dislike the idea in any year of picking a guy in the first that plays the deepest position in the draft. For me, the guy has to be truly special for that.

  • Holmes’ clutch rep is largely based on that SB play (though he was clutch other times). The thing is, he was only forced to make that play after he dropped the easy TD the play before.

  • Josh

    Yes, but didn’t he also run a punt back for a TD in the playoffs? I just remember he was a fantasy dud throughout the season but then had one tremendous game after another in the postseason.

  • Smokin_Smiley

    so if we go wr in 1 cb in 2 then what I guess we should just play with one defensive end this year since keisel woods and hood left…..oh yeah that’s right we got baby zilla cam Thomas……Arnfelt and Williams too….I guess we get run on again this year….I suggest we trade down to middle 20s get another 2nd round and 5th round pick get fuller in one tuitt on first 2 then if you have to have wr and Benjamin is gone go Bryant but I would go millers eventual replacement in Austin seferian Jenkins then another cb at end of 3rd like desir or Watkins then wr at 4 with devin street and we would be loaded and able to pick up the rest of our needs with 5 more picks in rounds 5 to 7….just a thought

  • He did, in the Jets game I think. He had a great playoffs, no denying that. I am just saying his rep is largely, and incorrectly, based on one play. Overall, he was very inconsistent, and that continued with the Jets, which is why he is currently looking for work.

  • Chad H

    I’m a Fuller fan in rd 1 and I agree with DE and OLB in the 3rd and 4th.

  • Thom

    This argument is illogical. Of all players drafted since 2005, only 7 WRs have been named 1st team All-Pro. That included three return men (J.Jones, J. Mathis, C. Patterson).

    Brandon Marshall is the ONLY receiver drafted since ’05 to be named 1st team All-Pro who was NOT drafted in the 1st.

    If you want to use 1st team All-Pro as the metric, then this graph would only prove that the Steelers must draft a WR in the first if they want an elite WR.

  • Thom

    Of WR drafted since ’05, 20 have gone to the Pro-Bowl as WRs. Of those 20, 11 were drafted in the first, and 6 were drafted in the 2nd.

    Only three WRs drafted since ’05 in round 3 or later have gone to a Pro-Bowl as a WR.

    Put another way:
    11 of 38 1st rnd WR’s drafted since ’05 have gone to a PB (29%).
    6 of 41 2nd rnd WR’s drafted since ’05 have gone to a PB (15%).
    3 of 222 3rd rnd and later WR’s since ’05 have gone to a PB (0.01%).

  • From a value perspective, taking Burress at #8 was a bad pick. We got very little production out of him.

    Though you are correct about the argument that how many players have succeeded in the past says anything about a particular player in this draft.

  • Doug Sawyer

    My picks to no surprise
    1.Kelvin Benjamin
    2.Philip Gaines
    3.Justin Ellis
    4.Ross Cockrell

    5.Lamin Barrow 5.De’Anthony Thomas
    6.Arthur Lynch 6.Derrick Hopkins

  • Doug Sawyer

    right here

  • Doug Sawyer

    before you start harping again …go read Gerry Dulac’s chat transcript

  • steelster

    good mock draft doug, however I don’t see Arthur Lynch lasting until the sixth round. The guy has talent and I have see him mocked in the 4th round quite a bit. Love the 3rd round pick in terms of value and need.

  • Weiss Chad

    I’m with u on that.adams might be best kept secret right now .

  • Yeah, his chats are awful. So not a good reference point.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I agree Dave. I have been saying this for awhile now. Since this draft is so deep at WR we can find a good one in the 2nd or 3rd do not waste a 1st on a guys unless he is your top WR in the draft wich I am sure will be long gone before we pick in the first

  • PoKey21

    Your first paragraph could also be describing the corner position for the steelers too. That’s probably the reason we are sitting here in 2014 with those 2 positions being our number one needs. Are you thinking Ebron then? He has everything you described.

  • steelster

    In that sense why not pick ryan shazier with the first pick. We do need a 3 down inside linebacker. Then go wr in the second and cb in the third.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Some say he can play a little outside as well.

  • Doug Sawyer

    and what good sir would you deem good reference points?
    cause I’m of the opinion the beat writer for a team is hands down better than any national guru

  • Steelers12328882

    OK maybe not a great pick, but I still wouldn’t change a thing.

  • Louis Goetz

    If you break the graph in half and look at the WRs taken in the 1st half of the 1st round since ’04 and then compare that to the WRs taken in the 2nd half of the 1st round since ’04 you’ll see something amazing. There’s only about 4 WRs who were taken early in the 1st round who have lived up to their potential (Fitzgerald, Megatron, AJ Green & Julio Jones), while about half of the WRs taken in the second half of the 1st round have lived up to their billing. I wonder if that says more about WRs being over-hyped, or the drafting prowess of teams typically picking later on day 1. All I know is that the 49ers should probably never take a WR in the 1st round ever again.

  • Don

    He was a big play guy who was often the target when Ben scrambled, and was great in the open field. You can criticize him for being a kook, but he was damn good on the field.

  • He was, but he was one of those maddening players that made the circus catches and then dropped the easy ones at times.