It seems that no matter who the Steelers get in free agency, they are always picking a wide receiver on day two. Here is a guy who would be a really nice fit.
The Steelers go into the 2021 NFL Draft with a lot of needs on the offensive side of the ball, and there is a question about who will take over after Ben Roethlisberger is done playing. Meanwhile, James Conner is a free agent, while Vance McDonald and Maurkice Pouncey recently retired and the Steelers have a lot of needs to fill on the offensive line.
However, there is one position where the Steelers have had a lot of success drafting under the direction of Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert: wide receiver. Let’s not forget that JuJu Smith-Schuster is a free agent and there is a lot of interest for him outside of the Steelers.
I think the best fit on day two is actually Rashod Bateman from the Minnesota Gophers. He is a guy who I thought was a first-round pick until 2020 which was a weaker season for him. That average 2020 puts him in the territory where the Steelers like to pick receivers in the second round. Though it’s likely he could be drafted before this, Bateman would make a lot of sense if available in round two.
Why he Bateman a fit for Steelers?
There are a lot of reasons why Bateman is a fit for the Steelers. One thing that I like about him is that you can move him around the slot, X, and Z positions to get the matchup that you want. He has played on the outside and the slot during his career at Minnesota.
Another thing that makes him attractive is that he is a Big 10 player. Historically, the Steelers have taken a lot of Big 10 players in the first two days of the NFL Draft, so you can bet they are very aware of what Rashod Bateman can do.
Bateman is also a fit in that the Steelers like to get receivers at the end of the second-round. That is how they got JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, and Chase Claypool. This draft will be another opportunity to go to the well – assuming Bateman could slide a bit in the draft.
What I like about his game
The main thing that I like about Bateman is that he is a very good route runner. He is the type of guy who can win with his feet and cutting with his route running. I think he will be able to generate a lot of separation that way.
His size and speed fit what the Steelers want. He runs in the 4.5 range but I bet he will do well in the three-cone on his pro day because his agility is so good. He is also 6’2” which will be enough to use him on the outside and will be a matchup nightmare in the slot.
Another thing to like about Batman’s game is that he has good hands. Drops were a big problem with the Steeler’s receivers in 2020 but I don’t think Bateman will add to that issue. The other thing that will help the Steelers is that Bateman knows how to win on intermediate routes. I really like that because it will help Pittsburgh move the chains on third down.
I’m sure you are already well aware, but the Steelers could very well lose JuJu Smith-Schuster this offseason with all the cap trouble that they’re in. The good news is that Pittsburgh could get younger and cheaper by drafting Bateman. I think he could very well replace Smith-Schuster in a year or two.
I know the Steelers have a lot of other needs on offense but wide receiver is still a premium position and they have had a lot of success drafting them in the past. I would like to see them fill some other needs on offense through free agency and with the other picks in the 2021 NFL Draft.