2014 NFL Draft: Why Pittsburgh Steelers Should Select a Wide Receiver in First-Round

By Michael Richter
Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers lack playmakers on offense—especially at the wide receiver position. Wide receiver Antonio Brown is the exception. He totaled over 1,400 receiving yards in 2013. The Steelers certainly are not an awful passing team, but the offense is on the cusp of becoming great; it just lacks another great player.

Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders is very likely to be in another team’s colors when free agency hits. The New York Jets have already expressed interest, and the Steelers surely won’t be sad to see Sanders go. He has underachieved in his time in Pittsburgh.

With Sanders likely to leave Pittsburgh, the No. 2 wideout slot will need to be filled. Likely to assume that position is Jerricho Cotchery after he had a pretty good 2013 season. Cotchery caught nine touchdown passes last season, but he does not possess starting wide receiver talent. He will be a free agent next month, but I doubt the Steelers will let him go.

The Steelers also have Markus Wheaton, whom the organization drafted in the third-round of the 2013 draft. Wheaton has the potential to be a star which could keep the Steelers from taking a wide receiver in the first-round of the 2014 draft. But Wheaton has played very little, so the Steelers shouldn’t depend on his potential.

Moreover, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has never played with a truly great group of receivers. The Steelers should strive to make their franchise quarterback happier.

Pittsburgh has the No. 15 overall pick in the 2014 draft. With that pick, the Steelers have a shot at snagging one the draft’s best wideouts. Sammy Watkins is likely to be gone by that pick, but the Steelers should have a shot at Mike Evans or Marqise Lee. The Steelers could even trade down and grab receivers such as Kelvin Benjamin or Allen Robinson.

The upcoming draft class lacks a lot of polished receivers, but it does have a lot of physically gifted guys who can become stars. By the time May rolls around, another position may have to be targeted. The Steelers have some big decisions in the defensive backfield, and the club may need to select a cornerback or safety in the first-round. But right now it looks as though the Steelers should be thinking playmaking wide receiver for their first-round choice.

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