Big Ben is gradually getting his wish for tall receivers

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Nearly a decade ago, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger ruffled feathers among his height-challenged receivers by publicly pining for a taller option. Hines Ward didn’t like it.

I don’t hear Tom Brady or Peyton Manning asking for that,” Ward said at the time. And Ward had the last laugh, because the Steelers burned a second-round pick in 2008 on Limas Sweed, who was: (1) tall; and (2) not good.

As noted by Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Steelers have gone from having none of their top five receivers taller than six feet in 2010 to having a broad collection of pass-catchers who surpass 72 inches.

“I’ve never seen this many,” six-foot, two-inch receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey said. “We got a lot of tall ones.”

Beyond Heyward-Bey, they have six-foot, four-inch Martavis Bryant, six-foot, four-inch Justin Hunter, six-foot, two-inch Sammie Coates, and six-foot, one-inch JuJu Smith-Schuster. Of course, the five-ten Antonio Brown remains the best of the bunch, which underscores the point made by Ward.

Roethlisberger still prefers tall receivers, since it increases the margin for error when throwing the ball — and since it gives the quarterback a target that can become an our-guy-catches-it-or-no-one-does option in the red zone. And with cornerbacks getting larger, increased height may become a necessity, not a luxury.

For now, though, all that really matters is the ability to get open and catch the ball. Over the past 20 years, the Steelers have had plenty of guys of all sizes who can do that.

12 responses to “Big Ben is gradually getting his wish for tall receivers

  1. 24′ 11” of Heyward-Bey, Martavis Bryant, Justin Hunter, and Sammie Coates still does not equal 5′ 10″ of Antonio Brown. He really is that good.

  2. Ben wants taller receivers so he can heave the ball and let them battle it out with the D-backs. Taking a page from Joe Flacco’s book.

  3. Everything being equal, I’d prefer 6′ 5″ WR”s and 6’5″ DB’s. Since smaller guys have the advantage in quickness and change of direction…everything is NOT equal. It’s best to have a combination of WR’s..some quick guys and some larger redzone guys. Ben was spot-on in asking for some big receivers.

  4. vikings1234 says:
    Jun 5, 2017 3:11 PM
    Ben wants taller receivers so he can heave the ball and let them battle it out with the D-backs. Taking a page from Joe Flacco’s book.

    There is a flaw in your statement, Ben is very accurate going deep down field. Joe may or may not be able to chuck it further, Ben can hit his mark instead of floating it up with a prayer.

  5. Edelman, Amendola, Malcolm Mitchell, Brandin Cooks, Mathew Slater, Dione Lewis, Rex Burkhead, Gillesee, Chris Hogan.

    Brady has zero wideouts or backs who are 6′ 2″ , most not even close. Not to mention Dione Branch, Wellker, and many others previously.

    It’s a long list and I never heard him complain. The difference is, if they can get open and catch the ball, The Great One will find them and put the ball where it needs to be when it needs to be there.

  6. What is all this “Big Ben” hogwash. The guy is only 6’5″. His “bigness” is mostly around his midsection. He has some of the weakest legs in the league, which is why he is always sidelined with injuries. Sorry Steeler fans, but your team will never be elite again until “after Ben”. Probably after Trip leaves too.

  7. Little Ben complaining about short receivers is just another in a long list of excuses for laying giant eggs during playoff season. If Little Ben could actually throw the ball, he might have scored at least one TD against KC. Sad.

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