Predicting Steelers wide receiver stats for the 2022 NFL season

George Pickens #14 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
George Pickens #14 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a promising, young wide receiver corps. Here are my season stat predictions for the top three receivers in 2022. 

It’s hard to know exactly how the Steelers wide receivers will produce in 2022, as there are a number of variables that are different from last season. For starters, there has been a great amount of turnover at the wide receiver position. The only returning receivers from the 2021 season are Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool.

I’m also curious to see how Mitch Trubisky (and perhaps Kenny Pickett later on) distributes targets and if they emerge with a new favorite weapon. For the past two seasons, Johnson was clearly the go-to option for Ben Roethlisberger, but that’s not set in stone moving forward.

The Steelers clearly have three starting receivers who will each be jousting for targets this season, and rookie George Pickens is sure to make things interesting. Here’s a look at each of Pittsburgh’s top receiver stat lines from last season (via Pro Football Reference) and my projected stats for each in 2022:

Diontae Johnson

2021 season stats: 107 receptions, 169 targets, 1,161 yards, 10.9 Y/R 8 TD

2022 stat prediction: 91 receptions, 146 targets, 1,018 yards, 11.1 Y/R, 7 TD

While there’s no guarantee that Diontae Johnson will lead the team in receptions and receiving yards, it’s probably a pretty safe bet — consider the chunk of change he earned from the organization this past offseason. Johnson doesn’t possess the size of Claypool or Pickens, but he’s easily the best route-runner of the group at the moment, and this will help develop trust with his quarterback early on.

Johnson’s ability to create separation will once again cause him to eat up a sizable portion of the market share. Though he is entering the prime of his NFL career, I expect his production to take a step backward, as I don’t believe that he will see quite as many targets without Roethlisberger at the helm. Still, he will probably be the most consistent receiving option from game to game.

Chase Claypool

2021 season stats: 59 receptions, 105 targets, 860 yards, 14.6 Y/R, 2 TD

2022 stat prediction: 61 receptions, 99 targets, 848 yards, 13.9 Y/R, 5 TD

I know that a lot of fans are down on Chase Claypool after last season, but he still managed to be relatively efficient with his targets in terms of yards per reception and yards per target last season. However, we would like to see those touchdown numbers come back up this year.

While I would love to predict a breakout year for Claypool in 2022 and give him his first 1,000-yard performance, I have a hard time seeing that happening with George Pickens potentially cutting into his workload. Perhaps playing from the slot in ’11’ personnel will give him a spark, and I do think his touchdown numbers go up this year, but with three receivers all fighting for looks, Claypool’s production might remain very similar to what we have seen in his first two seasons.

George Pickens

2021 season stats: N/A

2022 stat prediction: 59 receptions, 84 targets, 739 yards, 12.5 Y/R, 6 TD

From what we have witnessed from George Pickens over the summer in both training camp and preseason, it certainly wouldn’t surprise me if he emerged as the number one wide receiver on the team. However, I find it unlikely that this will happen early in the 2022 season. Even with his impressive play, Pickens may take a bit of a backseat to begin the year and probably won’t see as many snaps as Johnson or Claypool.

However, I think it’s only a matter of time before the 21-year-old proves that he’s up to the task. Considering there are two quality, young receivers who are most established, I think this would be a very respectable stat line by Pickens as a rookie. If he can truly overtake Claypool for a full-time role, he could certainly surpass these numbers as a rookie.

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With Calvin Austin landing on IR to begin his rookie season and not knowing how Pittsburgh intends to use Gunner Olszewski or Miles Boykin this year, I decided to leave them out of my season stat predictions for the time being. These are your top three wide receivers for the Steelers, and if all goes well, they could prove to be one of the better young trios in the league.