Steelers Martavis Bryant: Big expectations


Martavis Bryant came on strong last year, about as strong as a raw rookie who only played have the year could come on. The Steelers and their opponents certainly took notice but the media has as well. Go ahead and Google his name, you’d be hard pressed to find an article that isn’t practically salivating over his potential.

Bryant’s play last year has led many to wonder what he could do with a full season and better route running. Friend, foe, and everyone in between have big expectations for Bryant this year.

After being drafted in the 4th round out of Clemson by the Steelers Bryant spent about half the season on the practice squad. He was a player with high upside. He was a great athlete but was raw, young, and underutilized since he had Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins ahead of him on the depth chart. His potential was obvious but few could have anticipated how quickly he reached it.

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Bryant was so raw that Tomlin reportedly told him before he got activated he had to dominate on the training camp squad. Week 7 was Bryant’s first action and he didn’t waste time making an impact with a 35 yard touchdown. This essentially set the pace for the rest of the season, touchdowns and long balls.

Bryant finished with 549 yards and 8 touchdowns on 26 receptions. So if you’re doing the math he scored a touchdown on nearly a third of his receptions. His route running improved over the season but he was still very raw. If you can produce like that based on athleticism alone, imagine what you can do when you know what you’re doing.

So it’s really a no brainer to have high expectations for Bryant. And it’s therefore no wonder that the media has widely tabbed Bryant as someone poised to breakout.

When the AFC North writers for ESPN were asked who they expect to breakout next year, Bryant’s name came up more than once. Both Jeremy Fowler and Pat McManamon mentioned Bryant. McManamon said of Bryant,

"“Pittsburgh receiver Martavis Bryant, a guy who was inactive the first six games of the past season and still caught eight touchdown passes. Bryant’s development as a rookie might have caught the Steelers by surprise. He waited his turn, then took advantage when he got a chance — averaging 21.1 yards per reception, a figure that would have led the NFL, had he had 30 receptions (he had 26 and five in the playoffs). With Antonio Brown on the field, Bryant will see plenty of single coverage. He has a quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger who will find him. There will be opportunity, and Bryant should take advantage.”"

The young WR may have only played half a season but he showed enough for writer Bucky Brooks listed Bryant at number 4 on his top 5 deep threats in the NFL. Lots of love from, Kevin Patra put Bryant at number 17 on his list of players Making the Leap.

SB Nation also tabbed Bryant as one of the NFL’s “grittiest role players.” No matter what you call the list, writers are having a hard time keeping Bryant off of it. This writer is on the bandwagon. We all expect big things from Bryant, and there’s plenty of reason to be confident in those expectations.

Next: Steelers training camp: In Bud we trust?

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