If Pittsburgh fails to re-sign wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, there is one notable draft prospect that could help fight through his departure.
The wide receiver position is not one that particularly needs dire attention right now on the Steelers depth chart. Even if the possibility of star target JuJu Smith-Schuster not being brought back to the team for the 2021 season becomes a reality, that statement would still hold true. However, the loss would not go completely unnoticed. And with the salary cap situation looking a tad rigid, there is no better way to find a replacement for a player than with the NFL Draft.
Now, as many Steelers media sources (myself included) have previously pointed out, the top products that Pittsburgh should be searching for are offensive linemen and defensive backs. With that said, I refuse to just throw a top-3 receiving prospect on this take, as that is not realistic. If I had to guess, the earliest that the Steelers would look in the direction of any WRs would be in the third or fourth round. So big names like Ja’Marr Chase and Jaylen Waddle are a tad too elite when compared to the tier of options that we are looking through. However, one renowned name that stands out as a certainly imaginable selection that late in the draft is none other than Sage Surratt out of Wake Forest.
CBS Sports ranks him as the 17th-best wide receiver in the draft and 110th amongst prospects of all positions. Now, this may sound a tad low, but when looking for a potential selection so far down the road in the drafting process, you want to be able to ensure to the best of your ability that they will be available by the time you choose to pick them up. It is also probably worth mentioning that Surratt’s draft stock may have plummeted some following his decision to opt-out of the 2020-21 college football season due to COVID-19 concerns. As if that was not enough against him, he is coming out of Wake Forest, who has never quite been a blue blood in the department of NFL talent production.
Something else that makes Sage a safe bet to swipe off of the draft board is his build. If I were a betting man, I would say that the wide receiver position is one that probably has to gain the least amount of muscle to get a gig on a professional corps. In other words, as long as you can move and catch, you have already done most of the work. However, even if there was a level of expectation out of a rookie WR to kick it up a notch, Surratt has already got it covered. Standing at a listed 6’3” and 215 pounds, he is already noticeably bigger than JuJu, and a couple of other receivers on the roster not named Chase Claypool.
If JuJu Smith-Schuster is not re-signed for next season, it will be without a doubt unfortunate. However, with specimens like Sage Surratt not even being considered a top-15 wide receiver in the NFL Draft this April, how hard can it possibly be to find someone to soften the blow of such an absence? If we do by some chance get our hands on Sage, all we can hope for next is that he has as good of a rookie season as the last WR the Steelers drafted.