Deon Cain is a player that isn’t often talked about. Could the wide receiver make a difference for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2020?
When you think of current Steelers wide receivers, there are at least four players who come to mind. JuJu Smith-Schuster is obviously the most popular and most established of the group. Diontae Johnson has drawn a lot of buzz as of late, while Chase Claypool is receiving hype for his rare combination of size and athleticism. James Washington is a quiet personality who led all Pittsburgh receivers in yards last year and doesn’t get a lot of recognition.
However, one receiver who is rarely given a second thought is Deon Cain.
Cain was released by the Indianapolis Colts last season, but that doesn’t make him a bad receiver. Though he wasn’t necessarily the most productive player in college (734 yards and 6 touchdowns as a junior), there were many who really liked him coming into the NFL.
NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein was one of them. The NFL Draft expert had a high grade on Cain with an analysis that he would become a starter within his first two seasons. Though he hasn’t yet turned out to be the player Zierlein expected him to be, there is reason to be hopeful.
Steelers Deon Cain efficient in limited action
Cain played sparingly in just six games of action with the Steelers last season, but during that time he caught 5 of 6 targets for 72 yards and averaged 14.4 yards per catch. Despite falling all the way to the sixth round in 2018, Cain has managed to start 12 games in his first two NFL seasons.
This year, it will be harder than ever for Cain to carve out playing time. Ahead of him on the roster are Smith-Schuster, Johnson, Washington, and Claypool (not to mention Eric Ebron and Vance McDonald will both be in line for targets in the passing game). Even Ryan Switzer is a player who could have a role on offense, as he has a great relationship with Ben Roethlisberger.
Still, Cain saw limited action last year and it came at the hands of bad quarterbacks looking his direction. With an offseason of work with his new team, Cain has a chance to develop some chemistry with Roethlisberger. After all, Ben hasn’t really had the chance to do so with Johnson and Claypool yet.
With a young roster and a lot of draft capital invested into the wide receiver position, it’s hard to believe that Cain could develop into anything more than a solid rotational player. However, if all goes well, he could provide the Steelers with a consistent spark off the bench and a reliable insurance policy in the event of an injury to one of their starters.