Steelers Pre-Camp Depth Chart Update – Wide Receiver

With minicamp in the rearview mirror and training camp on the horizon, the Pittsburgh Steelers should already have all of the main components of their offseason roster in place, with all draft picks signed and no more free agents projected to be added until further evaluation.

It’s possible that a need should arise for further additions, either due to poor performance or injuries, once we reach training camp.

But for the time being, we should take a look at the depth chart that the front office has put together since the end of the 2013 season and see how well it stacks up in terms of quality and depth.

Due to the cumbersome lengths that offseason rosters can reach, we will be projecting a number or range of roster spots per position and focusing on that number of players per position, with other potential notables receiving mention below.

Position: Wide Receiver

Projected Roster Spots: 5-6

Antonio Brown: Coming off his second Pro Bowl season in the last three years, Antonio Brown is one of the best young receivers in the game, and it’s primarily a credit to his peerless work ethic.

He set the franchise record for receiving yards in a season and became the first receiver in league history to record at least five catches for 50 yards in every game for a full season. That’ll be a tough act to follow, but hopefully he’ll have more of a supporting cast this year, and not just from the wide receivers.

Markus Wheaton: Limited to six catches as a rookie, Markus Wheaton is expected to make significant strides in his second season as he enters the starting lineup. It’s by no means uncommon for the Steelers to start a second-year receiver, though Wheaton may have had the least productive rookie season of the three most recent cases. Still, he likely comes in as the most polished nonetheless.

Lance Moore: Replacing the presence of Jerricho Cotchery, Lance Moore brings his savvy veteran skills to help nurture a young group of wide receivers and to provide stability and a security blanket for the quarterback as the slot receiver.

Martavis Bryant: The rookie needs some coaching before he knows what he’s doing, but he has plenty of attributes that you can’t coach, including size and speed. The Steelers no doubt will have packages for him to get him on the field, particularly in red zone situations.

Darrius Heyward-Bey: The second of two veteran receivers the Steelers brought in to balance out their losses, Darrius Heyward-Bey figures to have a battle on his hands for a roster spot, especially if the team only carries five this year. He has a reputation of having very inconsistent hands, but he has height, speed, blocking ability, and a willingness to contribute.

Justin Brown: The second-year former sixth-round pick seems to have made strides since his rookie season. He’s received a fair bit of press so far this offseason, and even got a chance to work with the first-team offense a bit. But if he wants to make the roster this time around, he needs to keep it going through the preseason, and also show that he can contribute on special teams.

Others: The Steelers have many candidates at receiver this year, such that it seems likely they may have to let one go who can actually play. Maybe not be a regular contributor, but deserving of a roster spot in this league.

Of course, Dri Archer factors into this discussion. Derek Moye was on the roster last year. Young players such as Danny Coale and C.J. Goodwin are also to be considered—if they can get enough playing time during the preseason.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • ApexSteel

    No way DHB makes the roster if he continues on his current pace

  • Eric MacLaurin

    I don’t see the reason Wheaton is assumed to be the starter.

    I agree he’s the leader at this point but he doesn’t have enough experience to have earned anything.

    I think Brown, Wheaton and Bryant will all have an equal chance to earn the starting nod with Moore as the fallback should none of them grab the job. Brown and Wheaton have a little more experience than Bryant but Bryant is a better WR and if they are all close on the learning curve Bryant should probably be the choice. I think it will be close enough that fumble risk may end up deciding.

  • steeltown

    I wouldn’t go as far as to say Bryant is the better WR, better measurables yes, higher yds pre catch yes, but Wheaton had significantly more production in college. His senior yr alone outshined Bryants entire college career. Long run remains to be seen of course.

  • falconsaftey43

    Exactly. Bryant is the better athlete, but at this point Wheaton is a much better receiver based on what they did in college and the fact that Wheaton has been around for a year.

  • steeltown

    Im not even sure he’s the better athlete, he has better measurables, height vs speed, but Wheaton was in track and field in college, runs a much faster 40 than he did at the combine. He also put up more BP than Bryant and has much better short area quickness. That’s not to say that Bryant wont be a better Pro WR when all is said and done. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

    Good problem to have.

  • falconsaftey43

    Didn’t mean to diminish Wheaton’s athletic ability. I more meant that Bryant is the prototypical height, weight, speed specimen for WR.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    If all three were in the same draft Bryant would go first. The others have an extra year but they don’t have an extra year with significant experience and weren’t starting with the same advantage.

    Wheaton had better college numbers but also didn’t have as much competition for balls as Bryant did.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    “Much” might be pushing it. He is certainly a more accomplished receiver though.

    None of them however have done anything in the NFL. If they are all close, they will go with Bryant because of his combination of size and speed. The question becomes can Wheaton, or JB, separate enough in ability to warrant playing over the guy with the ideal natural ability.

  • SteveM2

    Other than established veterans Antonio Brown and Lance Moore, plus a nearly-guaranteed roster slot for Martavis Bryant (ie:, he’d have to screw up badly in order to be cut), I believe remaining two wide receiver positions are wide open, with Markus Wheaton having the inside track at starting.

    This, along with newly-injected speed supplied by Shazier on defense and Archer on offense, plus Mike Munchak’s and Peezee Porter’s added coaching zeal and expertise, promises to make the Black & Gold’s 2014 preseason a very interesting one.

  • stellarsfan

    I’m hoping our WR depth chart looks like this: 1)AB. 2)Wheaton 3)Moore 4)J Brown 5)Bryant and Dri Archer.

    Send DHB on his way, he just has that Limas Sweed feel.

    And cut/PS the rest. I like blount’s boy Goodwin for the PS, but only because the measurables and blount’s words are intriguing.