The Pittsburgh Steelers gave everyone a shock when they chose USC wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster in the second round of the 2017 NFL draft. It shocked Martavis Bryant so much he took to Twitter to defend his spot on the roster. But the reality is the Steelers have a ton of wide receivers now and will only have five on the final 53-man roster. Who stays and who goes?
This means seven guys have to go. Here’s our guess as to the final depth chart.
Antonio Brown-This goes without saying. For all the chatter about the rest, this group centers on Brown. He’s one of the most productive players in the NFL and the undisputed leader of this group.
Martavis Bryant-After spending a year on suspension it is clear that Bryant is ready to get back on the field. He’s spent the last 12 months training and preparing and looks like an absolutely terrifying package of size and speed, even more than before.
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JuJu Smith-Schuster-The rookie immediately becomes the third best wide receiver on the team. He’s the love child of Hines Ward and Anquan Boldin when he plays and adds a physical element to the depth chart that it has been lacking.
Eli Rogers-Rogers did a nice job as the team’s slot receiver in 2016 and definitely has earned a roster spot. But the pick of Smith-Schuster and the return of Bryant gives him a serious bump on the depth chart.
Sammie Coates-If Coates is healthy he will round out this depth chart quite nicely. He’s a great speed receiver who can pull the top off of a defense and eat up yards on specially designed plays.
That means the rest of the roster is out. Demarcus Ayers, Cobi Hamilton, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Justin Hunter, Canaan Severin, Dez Stewart and Marcus Hunter would be on the outside looking in. If Coates isn’t healthy, my vote is for Ayers to take that spot.
Projected contract numbers for the Steelers’ Day 3 draft selections
Some of these guys would still be practice squad eligible while others will be looking for work. One caveat to this. If the Steelers choose to keep a sixth wide receiver it will be because they need them for special teams and that would heavily favor Heyward-Bey.
What all this means is that the signing of Hunter was likely just the team hedging their bets in case the NFL didn’t reinstate Bryant. But there’s no way the team lets Ayers leave. They held onto him last season and he came in and played well late and has at least earned the chance to do that again.
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