Steelers receiving core is stepping it up this season

JuJu Smith-Schuster #19 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates after making a (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
JuJu Smith-Schuster #19 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates after making a (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) /

The Steelers receiving core has stepped up for this team. At the beginning of the season, I thought it was their Achilles heel.

The Steelers have gotten plenty of help from their receiving core. JuJu Smith-Schuster has been the number one and has drawn tight coverage. That has opened things up for Chase Claypool to emerge as a rookie. Diontae Johnson had a breakout game today as well.

The team has also gotten help from the bottom side of the roster. James Washington is a disappointment as a second-round pick but is a plus as a #4 receiver. Ray-Ray McCloud has really stepped up and solidified himself as a return specialist and has added some things as a gadget player.

JuJu Smith-Schuster

JuJu Smith-Schuster has bounced back in 2020. He had a down year in 2019 because of Ben Roethlisberger’s injury and Juju was asked to be the Steelers #1 receiver. He has the most receptions on the team with 45 receptions and he also leads the team in targets with 57.

I think his biggest contributions come in intangible ways like the way he takes on the toughest corner and makes athletic plays that don’t show up on the score sheet.

Chase Claypool

Chase Claypool is actually the Steeler’s leading receiver. He has more yards (444) and more touchdowns (5) than JuJu Smith-Schuster. He is a stud and he is only a rookie. The scary thing about him is that he is very raw. His measurables compare to Martavis Bryant and he is also known to have plus character. He adds other dimensions like the ability to run down kicks and he is used on the end around on runs.

Diontae Johnson

Diontae Johnson emerged today as the Steeler’s top receiver. According to ESPN, Johnson had 6 receptions for 116 yards which led the team in receiving on the day. What stands out about Johnson is his speed. He can beat you deep and on the underneath. I still think Johnson’s best days are in front of him and today could have been a breakout game.

James Washington

James Washington has been a bit of a disappointment for the Steelers, but he is still a plus #4 receiver for this team. Washington is different from the players the Steelers usually draft because he isn’t an athletic freak but he has been a winner over his career.

He was drafted the same year as his teammate at Oklahoma State, Mason Rudolph. They were even drafted on the same day.

Ray-Ray McCloud

McCloud plays the role that Ryan Switzer played last year. The only difference is that McCloud is much better at it. In the game against the Bengals, he almost took a punt back for a touchdown getting within the 15-yard line. He also has been effective in returning kicks. The plus with McCloud is that you can use him on Gadget plays.


This team has only five receivers but all of them are effective in helping this team. This is good news because I thought this was going to be a weakness at the beginning of the year.

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It seems this unit will be intact next year as well with JuJu Smith-Schuster being the only question. As much as I like JuJu, I think they can draft a replacement on Day Two of the draft again.