Last year, only three WRs were taken before pick 49: Marquise Brown, N’Keal Harry, and Deebo Samuel. Brown became a deep threat for the Ravens while Samuel became a versatile chess piece for the 49ers. Harry was a letdown, but he has plenty of time to turn his career around. Frankly, any of them would be valuable depth options at the position.
2018 saw five WRs taken before pick 49. D.J. Moore and Calvin Ridley were 1st rounders while Courtland Sutton, Dante Pettis, and Christian Kirk were taken in the 2nd. The only early “bust” from this category is Pettis, who suffered a major down year last year. Even then, he can serve as a returner while also being a depth player for the Steelers.
2017 was the most underwhelming year, but also had the most WRs taken with five. Corey Davis, Mike Williams, and John Ross were the 1st rounders (and all top-ten selections) while Zay Jones and Curtis Samuel went in the 2nd round. Davis and Williams have found roles with their teams but haven’t blossomed into top WRs yet while Ross has struggled through injuries en route to almost being a bust. Zones is on his second team already while Samuel has become a solid option for the Panthers.
Looking at the numbers, that means an average of four WRs should be off the board before the Steelers select at 49. Using CBS Sports big board, that would leave Tee Higgins as the top prospect, with a best-case scenario being Justin Jefferson and the worst being Brandon Aiyuk. Any of those options would represent great value, and even though the numbers point to them being available, there are talks of 7 WRs going as high as round one. Even if a high number of WRs go early, the Steelers should still be in prime position to select an upside WR at pick 49 if they decide to go that route.