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WR Depth Chart: Approaching the 3rd Preseason Game

By G.Stryker
SteelerNation.com

Preseason is halfway over with two games left to play. The Pittsburgh Steelers depth chart appears to me to be: (Players in bold, are projected to make the roster)

 

LWR (X) Donte Moncrief, Diontae Johnson 

           Diontae Spencer (+) Tevin Jones (-)

 

SWR (Y) JuJu Smith-Schuster,  Eli Rogers (+) 

             Ryan Switzer (-)

 

RWR (Z) James Washington, 

             Johnny Holton (-), Trey Griffey (-), Brandon Reilly (-)

 

Receivers lost:  Antonio Brown (Traded to Oakland)

Darrius Heyward-Bey (Free Agent-currently unsigned) 

Justin Hunter (Free Agent-currently unsigned) 

 

I’ve placed the deep ball receivers with size/speed on the Right (Z), more polished route running receivers on the Left (X), and slot guys are in the Middle (Y).  Last year, the Steelers kept six receivers, and I expect them to do the same this season.

 

Donte Moncreif had his first catch as a Steeler, then immediately put in on the ground for a lost fumble.  I’m not worried about him. His job is safe, and he’s a veteran who should be shaking off the rust.  Dionate Johnson got into the game, had some returns, and logged the most snaps of any player on offense with 48 snaps.  I’m not sure his offensive pass interference call was warranted, and just don’t see it in the replay, but he showed he has a nose for scoring and got his touchdown later in the game.  Diontae Spencer is the best returner on the team.  I’m sure the Steelers will give Johnson more returns in game 3, but Spencer has already shown he’s comfortable back there, can make people miss, and gets north-south quickly.  His path to the roster as of today, is as a returner. If they play him at the Z next game, and he does well, he will probably make this team. Tevin Jones after having a good game last week, nearly disappeared this week.  He has to make more plays to make this team.

JuJu Smith-Schuster got his first game action of the year.  He was targeted three times and well covered on all of them.  He should get a lot of work this week. Eli Rogers had two catches on three targets for 31 yards.  He looked fluid in his patterns and his hands are money.  Finally getting some game action, it appeared to me that he is ready to compete for the slot job.  The team gave him the first week off with the other starters, then took a shot deep down the middle with him.  Ryan Switzer took a step back and is even with Eli, and will be fighting tooth and nail for that last spot.

James Washington built on his performance from last week to add four catches for 78 yards on five targets.  He’s working very hard to the ball, and appears leaner. He’s quicker in and out of breaks, and he’s facing the QB with both hands on the ball when he goes up for it.  He’s starting to look like the real thing as opposed to fools gold. Johnny Holton followed up his first great performance in game 1 with a disappearing act in game 2.  Only one target though he had more special teams snaps (10) than offensive snaps (7). Trey Griffey had two snaps.  Tough to make the team when you’re not getting chances.  Brandon Reilly had zero snaps on offense and only logged one special teams snap.  He will not be on the roster this year.

Another good showing from the receivers in the second preseason game.  Washington is showing he’s not just a deep receiver, and it is necessary to have a Z receiver who can make those tough catches for first downs to keep drives going.  Great to see JuJu, Moncreif, Rogers, and Johnson get their first game action of the year. They should continue to get stronger as the preseason progresses.

The big change this week is Holton getting replaced on the projected roster by Spencer.  The Steelers obviously love what Holton brings in the coverage game, logging so many special teams snaps, but you also can’t deny that Spencer appears to be a special and exciting returner.  Eli and Swtizer, I see as essentially deadlocked. Another strong showing next week can put Eli over the top, though I still see a possibility where Eli and Switzer both don’t make this team.  If it comes down to special teams play, Holton and Spencer have the edge, and if Spencer and Johnson both show they can handle the slot duties as well as being better options as returners, that is a big leg up on Eli and Switzer, who are both slot only receivers.

 

Who do you think should make the final roster as a wide receiver?  Comment below and share your thoughts.

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