When it comes to the NFL draft, few teams can crack the code. When it comes to finding good receivers in later rounds of the draft, the Steelers have cracked it open.
Starting in 2009, they’ve found players like Mike Wallace (2009), Emmanuel Sanders (2010), Antonio Brown (2010), Martavis Bryant (2014), JuJu Smith-Schuster (2017), James Washington (2018), Diontae Johnson (2019), and Chase Claypool (2020).
This year, they’ve added a pair of receivers after round one. On Friday night, they took Georgia receiver George Pickens in round two. On Saturday, they added Memphis receiver Calvin Austin III in round two.
They surely aren’t making these picks idly. Yes, they have short-term needs; Washington and Smith-Schuster left in March via free agency. However, Johnson is entering his contract year and Claypool has two seasons left on his rookie deal. Chances are one of them gets paid and the other walks away.
That’s what happened with Wallace and Brown. Once Wallace refused the offer the Steelers made in 2012, they gave it to Brown. History could repeat itself at the receiver position in Pittsburgh.