Ranking Pittsburgh Steelers best options at slot receiver in 2021

Ray-Ray McCloud #14 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Ray-Ray McCloud #14 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /
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Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19). Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

1. JuJu Smith-Schuster

JuJu Smith-Schuster can tell the media and his coaches as often as he chooses that he wants to ‘play on the outside.’ But that doesn’t mean that he’s the best option for that role, and I’m sure his coaches know where he wins best.

As an outside receiver, JuJu is nothing special. He does not separate particularly well, nor is he the quickest receiver in and out of his breaks. In terms of his skill set on the outside, Smith-Schuster is just an average player. However, when in the slot, that’s a different story.

JuJu’s best traits are securing the ball in traffic and fighting for tough yardage after the catch – something that every great slot receiver needs to be able to do. As an average athlete, he also has a chance to gain more yardage after the catch because of the matchups he is afforded from the slot.

Without Antonio Brown over the past two years, it’s very evident that Smith-Schuster is not a number one receiver on the outside, and there are several others on his own team who are better at playing outside the hashes. He truly gives Pittsburgh their best option in the slot in 2021.

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With Ray-Ray McCloud being more of a gadget and return specialist and with Claypool and Johnson winning best on the outside, JuJu Smith-Schuster really does give this team their best slot option. Let’s hope he’s used as such in 2021.