WR Depth Chart: Entering Training Camp

Barry Reeger


Entering training camp, this is my projected depth chart
(Players on the top line are projected to make the roster):

Antonio Brown, Darrius Heyward-Bey
Marcus Tucker, Damoun Patterson

JuJu Smith-Schuster, Eli Rogers,
Marcus Tucker, Jaylen Samuels, Quadree Henderson, Justin Thomas

Justin Hunter, James Washington
Tevin Jones, Trey Griffey

Receivers lost:
Sammie Coates (Traded), Martavis Bryant (Traded)

I’ve placed the deep ball receivers with size on the Right (Z), more polished route running receivers on the Left (X), and slot guys are in the Middle (Y). I project the Steelers to keep 6 WRs this year, as they did last year.

Antonio Brown is not only the best receiver on the team, he is the best in the league. He rarely comes off the field and has the potential make a big play at any time. Darrius Heyward-Bey has all of the experience, can play any of the receiver positions and is a special teams demon. To unseat DHB, a receiver has to show that they can play all the receiver spots, and excel on special teams. That is a tough task for any new player. Marcus Tucker, on film, reminds me a lot of Brown coming out of college. Explosive, quick, fast, and has nice hands, works well on WR screens, and is tough to bring down. He did well enough last year in training camp to be placed on the Practice squad. Damoun Patterson has the size, and runs great routes, but he is very raw. If he competes hard enough, he can earn a spot on this year’s practice squad.

JuJu Smith-Schuster did an excellent job in the slot, so well that the Steelers gave him more and more duties as the season wore on. First, he wrestled the starting slot receiver position from Eli, then quickly replaced Martavis Bryant as the #2 WR on the field playing the Z. He was also on the field in 1WR sets as the best blocking receiver on the team. JuJu is position flexible, and could play all 3 spots. Personnel wise, the Steelers have an advantage using JuJu as a large bodied slot receiver, with the ability to break big plays. Eli Rogers just signed with the Steelers, he knows the playbook and will enter camp with a leg up on the competition. I only hope that leg is fully repaired! Tucker played the slot during minicamp and generated a buzz with his ability. He has a good chance to be the second slot receiver in 4WR sets, and will be battling Eli for that spot during camp. Jaylen Samuels played most of his college snaps as a slot receiver, and I think the Steelers will try him there as well as RB in the preseason. Samuels is position flexible, and may not even be listed as a WR on the Steelers official depth chart. He should make the team as a RB, but count on him moving to the slot in different formations this season. Quadree Henderson is the most promising return prospect on the team. He is short, but solid. Quick, and tough to bring down. He is raw, but he has potential to succeed as a slot receiver. Justin Thomas played QB in college and doesn’t have a lot of experience or any film as a receiver. It will be tough for him to crack this roster.

Martavis Bryant was traded to the Las Vegas Raiders on draft day, creating open competition for the starting Z position in 3WR sets. Justin Hunter seems to do everything right on film, by being aggressive and using his body to shield the ball in traffic to make tough catches. He made the roster last year, and was activated only when Bryant wasn’t able to play. James Washington was drafted in the second round, to be the deep threat the Steelers lost by trading Bryant. Washington has all of the tools, speed, hands, route running, willingness to block, while leading all college receivers in deep ball receptions. He is new to the team and has to work hard to earn a starting spot over Hunter. Tevin Jones has been bouncing around the league for a couple years, but is a deep threat. He blocked a couple punts in college, so he has to show he can be effective on special teams to have a shot. Trey Griffey is an athletic WR, but is a project. It will take a lot of practice to polish his game, but he does have practice squad potential.

I don’t think the Steelers will keep 7 WRs this year. This is mainly because Le’Veon Bell is a pass catching threat out of the backfield, so it lessens the need for an extra slot receiver. Samuels is also going to be a swing player on offense. He will line up at RB and WR this year and possibly some TE. His position flexibility is a big reason why the Steelers will not keep more than 6 WRs.

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