Steelers could maintain streak of drafting wide receivers with their second pick

USC Trojans wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown (8). Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
USC Trojans wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown (8). Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

The Steelers have taken a wide receiver in the second draft choice in four straight years. Here’s why that streak could continue in 2021. 

You would be hard-pressed to find a team in the NFL that has taken the exact same position with their second draft choice in each of the past four NFL Drafts. However, the Steelers have managed to do exactly that. When it comes to wide receivers, apparently you can never have enough and Pittsburgh hasn’t shied away from spending a day-two pick at the position each of the past four years

Starting with JuJu Smith-Schuster back in 2017, the Steelers have taken four straight wide receivers with their second selection each year since (the others being James Washington, Diontae Johnson, and Chase Claypool). Though Johnson was technically an early third-round draft choice, he was still Pittsburgh’s second pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Clearly, the Steelers place a high emphasis on this position. As a result, they are widely considered to be one of the best teams in the league at evaluation, drafting, and developing wide receivers. Chase Claypool appears to be the latest success story of this after a phenomenal rookie season that included 13 total touchdowns (including the playoff game against the Browns).

Could Steelers keep the streak going?

You would think that after investing so much in their wide receivers over the past four years that Pittsburgh would give it a break in the 2021 NFL Draft. However, I’d be shocked if that was the case. In fact, there is plenty of reason to believe they could target the position yet again as early as the second round.

Though there have been rumors that he would like to stick around in Pittsburgh, JuJu Smith-Schuster is going to be sporting a different uniform next fall. Meanwhile, James Washington will be entering the final year of his rookie contract, while Eric Ebron and Vance McDonald each have one year remaining and are subject to being let go this offseason.

Though tight end certainly seems like a much more pressing area of need at the moment, it’s a pretty weak tight end class, and there may not be a player available that is worth Pittsburgh drafting with either of their first two picks this year. That may not be the case at wide receiver.

While this receiver class isn’t anywhere close to the historical group we saw come out last year, there looks to be a handful of quality second-round options with players like Rondale Moore, Kadarius Toney, Terrance Marshall Jr., Elijah Moore, and Amon-Ra St. Brown. In fact, there is a chance that a wide receiver could be the best available position when Pittsburgh is selecting at pick 56 in round two.

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In order to maintain the threat of the passing attack, the Steelers could yet again look to dip into this position with their second pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool could be candidates that stick around for the long haul, but depth at wide receiver has always been extremely important to Pittsburgh. Don’t be surprised if they keep this wide receiver streak going.