The Steelers are in need of depth at the wide receiver position. Here’s why former first-round pick Breshad Perriman in an excellent fit in Pittsburgh.
Just a few short years ago, the Steelers boasted one of the best groups of wide receivers in the NFL. Antonio Brown was a legitimate number one receiver who still had his head on somewhat straight, while Martavis Bryant was a legitimate threat down the field. In addition, JuJu Smith-Schuster was an offensive chess piece that Pittsburgh could line up at multiple receiver spots.
Fast forward to 2020, and the Steelers wide receivers look a lot different. JuJu is the only starter remaining of the group. Though James Washington and Diontae Johnson have flashed potential early in their careers, Pittsburgh is desperately lacking depth and speed down the field.
There are a handful of capable depth options at wide receiver the Steelers could look to add in free agency this year. However, one name that really makes sense is Tampa Bay’s Breshad Perriman.
Perriman was a former first-round draft choice by the Baltimore Ravens back in 2015 but missed his entire rookie season with an injury. Though there were high hopes for Perriman, he has managed just 1,561 receiving yards over his first five NFL seasons (51 games).
However, Perriman is coming off his best season to date – managing 645 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns on nearly 18 yards per catch. What is especially enticing about Perriman is that he has something no other Steelers wide receiver currently does – legitimate speed down the field.
At his UCF Pro Day, Perriman was clocked running 4.24 and 4.27-second 40-yard dashes on his two runs. He also showed an impressive explosion with a 36 1/5” vertical jump and a 10’7” broad jump.
Currently, James Washington serves as a deep threat for the Steelers, he wins with his ability to track the ball and box out defenders rather than straight-up speed (Washington ran just a 4.54s 40-yard dash). Though the Steelers also have Jonnhy Holton under contract for another season, he managed to catch just 3 of 15 targets for 21 yards (7.0 yards per catch) in 2019.
Holton has proven his value on special teams but is completely worthless on offense. Though Perriman has very limited special teams experience, he is a much better football player. Perriman graded out as the 42nd best receiver in the league last season with a 72.8 overall grade, according to Pro Football Focus. This was a higher mark than any receiver on the Steelers in 2019.
Perriman would give Ben Roethlisberger a threat down the field he hasn’t had since Martavis Bryant. Forcing opposing safeties to respect the deep ball should open up everything else on offense – including the running game.
Breshad Perriman is far from the perfect player and is somewhat of a one-trick pony. However, at just 26 years old, the wide receiver still has some of his best football ahead of him. The free-agent receiver could be an excellent addition to Pittsburgh’s offense in 2020.