A very young WR room for the Steelers, Juju Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, and James Washington have all proved they have breakout potential & could make jumps as Ben Roethlisberger returns as the starter. In the passing league, we are in today, teams want this group to be as deep as possible. If not destined for stardom, excel in something that could contribute in the 5-10 snaps they receive weekly. Cliché to say as that’s a reason for all depth, it’s a bit more critical for a few more positions, wide receivers being one.
All the dilemma is here but in a funny way. Personnel wise, the review of who’s going to be the strong safety is intensely more in-depth than the others listed here, and even though the thinning out at the inside linebacker might make the answer appear effortless, the situation is still unique. However, for what’s taking place in our global economy, what effect would that have when talking about the WR depth of the Steelers?
The no question, for sure, without a doubt, names that will make this team are Smith-Schuster, Johnson, Washington, and rookie Chase Claypool. That leaves a toss-up for the standard fifth and final spot that the Steelers carry on game day, between the likely Ryan Switzer & Deon Cain.
Both of their impacts won’t be great, considering their place on the team, but there’s so much commentary behind this from what has occurred on the field in recent times. Switzer for starters has been apart of the Steelers organization since 2018, starting in one of his 25 game appearances, totaling 280 receiving yards, one touchdown, & an average of 6.4 yards per reception. As compared to Cain, who was signed off the Colts practice squad in November of 2019, caught five passes for only 72 yards in his three starts for the Steelers, averaging 14.4 yards per reception.
Although Switzer also has the return experience over Cain, a more suited option to fill that position, perhaps a Diontae Johnson could boost this special teams unit. A different conversation for a different time, there’s not much statistically to separate the two. Both consistent throughout their careers for what the little bit that has been done, Cain does have the upper hand in career Y/R, averaging 13.8 versus Switzer’s 8.0.
However, and this is where the tricky part comes, as the NFL is pushing for the 2020 season to begin naturally, the potential for a shortened year impacts situations like these. Although Switzer is beloved by Roethlisberger, he has struggled in creating anything from the slot or as a returner, and even though his stats are minimal, Cain has shown slight ability in being a serious threat.
If there’s is no training camp, or just a limited one, the fear is favor ends up playing a factor in some of these decisions, with these two being a prime example. The nose tackle & left guard will also be close positions to pay attention to as we draw nearer to the season.