After a few days of courting, the Pittsburgh Steelers decided that they would not sign free agent wide receiver Steve Breaston. He was brought in for workouts and I assume medical checks, and the Steelers then announced that they would not be offering Breaston a contract when NFL free agency begins on March 12.
Breaston would have been an excellent fit for the Steelers as the WR3 role in the slot and as an explosive kick returner. Simply knowing that this was the type of player the Steelers are looking for, it’s safe to assume that even if they do not pursue Breaston, they will try and find that type of player. It is fair to speculate that they could now pursue that sort of player in the later rounds of the NFL Draft.
There are several options that the Steelers could look at later in the draft, meaning fourth round and beyond, but the two that interest me the most are Josh Boyce from TCU and Kenny Stills from Oklahoma. Both are that long lean athletes like Breaston in the six-foot range, and both around 200 pounds.
They are also rather similar types of players with deceptive speed and acceleration. Boyce had the opportunity to showcase it much more than Stills did at Oklahoma.
Stills has more of the look of a true slot receiver who excels running option routes and working the intermediate parts of the field, while Boyce is a bit more versatile and has more experience running deep routes in the TCU offense. But, both do a very good job of working in traffic and getting yards after the catch.
In terms of draft stock, both players had excellent scouting combine performances with sub 4.4 40 times, and showed very good quickness and change of direction in drills. Stills has been a more productive player during his career and is probably a late third, early fourth round pick at this point, while Boyce is probably more of a late fourth round pick.
Should the Steelers choose not to pursue Breaston any further, either of these talented young receivers could more than fill that same role.
My take-The Steelers have to seriously consider drafting one of these players as opposed to signing Breaston. Both Boyce and Stills are younger, faster, and more athletic. They may not have the experience of Breaston, but I don’t see this group of pass catchers in dire need of a veteran presence in order to be successful.