Bottom Of Wide Receiver Depth Chart Gets Blocked Up

Throughout the offseason, I’ve been fairly consistent in maintaining that the Pittsburgh Steelers could carry six wide receivers into this season, despite the fact that Dri Archer is as much a receiver as he is a running back.

I believe that most of my roster predictions have included six wide receivers, and I believe that my final prediction will include six as well, though the order may be different.

The play of Darrius Heyward-Bey during the past two games has virtually locked himself up a roster spot after overcoming a concussion early in training camp that limited his productivity and kept him out of the first preseason game.

He finished last night with a game-high six receptions for 44 yards, and he has nine receptions for 98 yards in the past two, including a 33-yard touchdown. He has caught everything in his vicinity without dropping any passes.

What’s more than that, he’s proven to be a worthwhile contributor on special teams, and has shown a willingness to block in both the passing game and the running game.

This was the scouting report that we presented after his signing when he fell out of favor with the Indianapolis Colts, and he’s shown that here—without the drops.

Last year’s sixth-round draft pick, Justin Brown, has not been nearly as noticeable during this preseason. Through four games, he has five receptions for 32 yards, including two for 17 yards last night.

If you pay attention to his snap counts, however, it does seem that he is still favored by the team, and that alone could help persuade the team to carry six wide receivers. And Brown is the type of player that does things away from the ball as well.

Brown and Heyward-Bey got the bulk of the early work last night with Landry Jones in at quarterback, and both of them showed a tenacity and willingness to block, even aggressively. I believe it’s Brown’s complete body of work that gives him the best chance of making the 53-man roster this time around.

Of course, he is also special teams-capable, has good size at 6’3”, and perhaps most importantly, plays every wide receiver position, flowing from one to the next from play to play. He can move over to the slot or either outside position depending on the shifting personnel, which is a great asset for him to have.

Add in the fact that rookie Martavis Bryant suffered a shoulder injury last night, and, depending on the severity, they could be down a target for a while—a tall target. It could be useful to have Brown around.

It wouldn’t be the worst thing for Brown if he has to spend another season on the practice—he’ll make it eventually—but I get the feeling he may be blocking his way on to the roster. It won’t be long before we know for sure, though I wouldn’t be surprised either way.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

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

  • Bradys_Dad

    Moye vs. Brown ……….. discuss.

  • beermonkey

    Moye is not in the discussion.

  • steeltown

    I like Moye, but JB plays all the positions and has good blocking ability. Also has experience returning punts in college (im surprised he wasn’t asked to return in preseason)

  • SteveM2

    This discussion re: 2014 Steelers wide receivers has, ever since the Bryant draft and the Heyward-Bey signing, always been a numbers game. Time will tell how everything plays out.

  • Heyward-Bey has been a pleasant surprise the past two games. Coming out of camp, I saw little chance he would make the roster.

    As far as fifth wide receivers go, he’s a good one.

  • PA2AK

    Landry Jones is DHB and Justin Browns favorite Steeler right now…for the time being. Gotta cut Jones and keep DHB and Brown. They do the little things and Mann is looking for guys that are willing.

  • Taylor20

    Jones, you are the weakest link…..goodbye!

  • cencalsteeler

    Brown, I believe, has a better skill set when it comes to plays in the middle of the field. He’s more diverse.

  • Kenneth Wilt

    Landry Jones won’t impact the 6th WR IMO. That being said, if it came down to a 6th WR or keeping Jones, I would choose WR. If we want the BEST 53, that is what is required.

  • PA2AK

    Of course it can. That’s a spot on the 53 that could be open. I can’t imagine them keeping him on PS. It could actually affect multiple positions and the numbers they keep for each. They have a lot of undeveloped depth to consider at WR, DL, and LB….how does having an additional roster spot open, not affect whether or not they decide to keep 6 WR’s (which is out of their norm)?

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    To me that is the key. Justin Brown can play that “Jericho Cotchery-middle-of-the-field” role which is essential in our current offense.

    He also has a year of learning the playbook/audibles/hot reads. And remember Ben spent extra time with him this past off season. I would think Ben is in his corner.

    Most of all, with situations like these (choosing the sixth receiver), you have to look at upside. Justin Brown is a bigger target with big hands. He has the potential to be a solid possession receiver if he can improve his separation skills and consistency. I think he offers more than the other WRs in contention.

  • Moye didn’t get too much of a shot last night against the Panthers. Plus, he was playing with a much more than below average QB in Landry Jones. I still think he’s better than Justin Brown and he’s also much more durable. Keep Derek Moye. Lose Justin Brown.

  • Heyward-Bey probably did enough last night to make the final roster. He also has more NFL experience than Moye or Brown. That being said, Moye didn’t get too much of a shot last night against the Panthers. Plus, he was playing with two much more than below average QBs in Landry Jones and Brendon Kay. I still think he’s better than Justin Brown and he’s also much more durable. In the end, if it’s possible, keep Derek Moye. Lose Justin Brown.

  • PA2AK

    More durable? How’s he better for the team though?

  • SteveM2

    You just might find out –if current projections are correct– how Derek Moye is “better for the team”, if/when he’s across the line of scrimmage on another team.

  • PA2AK

    wow…insightful Steve…I was wondering what STEEL’s opinion was. As for current projections…who’s? Every projection of final rosters I’ve seen have Moye as the odd man out.

  • Taylor20

    I agree with everything except for those last 2 sentences. IMO, its the opposite.

  • steelster

    The browns

  • PA2AK


  • Eric MacLaurin

    I think you have to keep JB. DHB also should stay.

    I think they’re both well above the line and I can’t see keeping replacement level guys and giving JB to a competitor. Even if that means too many WRs

  • SteveM2

    Like I said, you just might find out, P2.

  • Matthew Marczi

    I don’t think he got enough opportunities to really play himself into the equation. Not his fault, really.

  • Luis Garcia

    Brown needs to appear more in games… Moye lost it to DHB… dang choices.

  • Kenneth Wilt

    A 3rd QB will be kept, either on the roster or on the PS. Someone has to run the scout team plays and Ben and Grad aren’t doing that.

    I think my thought on Jones is I think we have decided with the injury to Bryant that we are going to keep 6. If we decide that Jones has to make the roster, or another 3rd QB, then we will find another position to pull from in order to create a roster spot.

    The expanding of the PS may affect things we have done in the past as well. We always carried 3, but with the PS larger we might not this year.

  • How’s he better for the team? Ask youself this question: Which is better for the team, a talented WR who gets hurt all the time or a talented WR who does’t get hurt all the time? That should give you your answer.

  • PA2AK

    Didn’t realize Brown was so frail. I don’t think your judgement there is legit. I could be wrong

  • If I’m wrong, I’ll be the first to admit it. We’ll see what happens, but my guess is, at some point during the season, Justin Brown gets injured and Derek Moye gets activated from the practice squad to take his place. I’m just hoping Moye makes it to the practice squad.

  • You think Justin Brown is WAY above the line? That’s funny. J.B. is below ‘the line’ and injury prone. Darrius Heyward-Bey was close to retiring, but was talked into staying around for a bit. He is of course better than J.B. due to the fact that he has more pro experience, but he’s also getting fragile. Once either of them gets injured, and my guess is it won’t be long from now, Moye will step-up and be fine in their place. (That is if Moye clears waivers, which I’m almost positive he will.)

  • Eric MacLaurin

    What’s funny is that I disagree with every single thing you just said. All 10-12 points.

    I’m glad we can make each other laugh anyway. 🙂