Ranking the Room: Who is the top receiver for the Steelers in 2024?

We continue with our room ranking this offseason as the Steelers WRs are broken down and dissected before training camp.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Calvin Austin III (19)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Calvin Austin III (19) / Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

With July officially here, it is time to rank the Pittsburgh Steelers roster by positional group before training camp gets underway.

The rankings will be a mix of criteria. Mainly, I am looking at what players will put the Steelers in the best position to win this year. While long-term potential is considered, I care less about what a player can provide in 2025 as opposed to what they can do for the team this year.

For rookies, their level of pro-readiness will be taken into account as well as their projection on the roster.

All 11 Pittsburgh Steelers wide receivers ranked

11. Jaray Jenkins

The bottom three names are essentially on an equal playing field. The bottom of the roster candidate is Jenkins, as he lacks the production and athleticism to survive at receiver. He was mildly productive at LSU, but his tape left a lot to be desired. He lacks the athletic traits to thrive in any spot, so he claims the bottom spot for the Steelers.

10. Duece Watts

In a similar mold, Watts is lacking any significant playing time and his tested athleticism is poor. That said, he is more of a slot receiver despite his size, and the Steelers like their big slots. The major issue was his lack of usage on special teams in camp, as that element of his game will need to be there to have any shot of sticking around.

9. Jacob Copeland

Of all the lower-tier receivers, Copeland has the best shot at shining. He is easily the most athletic player of the bunch and can serve as an outside or inside receiver. His tape was lackluster and he was never consistently productive in college, so there are valid questions on how his play will actually translate to the field.

That athleticism could make him a valid special teams player, and his traits give him a nod over the other names.

8. Scotty Miller

When you break down the receiver room, you will quickly notice that both Miller and Calvin Austin are a similar style of player. It will be hard for both to make the roster, and Austin has the leg up given his familiarity with the team. Miller showed some life early in his career, but he is a one-trick pony with no special teams value.

7. Dez Fitzpatrick

Fitzpatrick faces an uphill climb to make the roster. That said, if this team is adamant that they need to keep six receivers and want one designated for special teams like Miles Boykin was last year, Fitzpatrick is your guy. Assuming that isn’t the case though, he should be vying for a practice squad spot.

6. Quez Watkins

The final six names on this list are all fighting for a roster spot, and the final group could be a handful of different builds from this list assuming no big-name trade target is acquired. Watkins is an intriguing name, given his speed. He can be potent with the ball in his hands and when running vertical routes.

The issue with him is his lack of strengths elsewhere as well as his confinement to the slot. He hasn’t played well on the outside, and the slot room is already heavily accounted for on this roster. He has returned kicks, which will help his case, but he needs to show some development as a total receiver if he wants to crack this roster.

5. Marquez Callaway

Of all of the “redemption” receivers on the Steelers roster this offseason, Callaway has more potential than most. The former Saints receiver had a breakout 2021 season for the Saints and looked like a capable receiver. He fell off in 2022 and was a practice squad option for New Orleans last year with no playing time.

Unlike Miller and Watkins, Callaway isn’t just a vertical threat. He, instead, is a bigger, bulkier target that is hard to bring down after the catch. Add in his above-average route running and you have a capable outside receiver. While there is one more name of this bunch that people are sleeping on, Callaway could make some noise in training camp.

4. Roman Wilson

While the fourth-round pick was productive in college, he seems like a more defined slot receiver at the next level as opposed to a complete second option that can thrive on the outside. Given the new offense, the slot receiver should be less impactful.

Wilson is only a third-round pick, so expecting him to come in from the get-go and put up big numbers is silly. Long term he has the makings of a good offensive weapon, but for 2024, I think he will take more of a backseat role as opposed to a bonafide starter.

3. Calvin Austin

Austin was in line for a breakout season last year. The room was shallow and unproductive past the top two names, and Austin displayed some vertical ability against the Raiders. Unfortunately, his entire season was marred with inconsistencies, and it seems difficult for him to become a true top option for this offense.

Considering the lack of great names in this room though, Austin has to be given a leg up. He and the second-place name are the front-runners for the second-receiver role. With better quarterback play, Austin could be in store for a bigger role in his third season.

2. Van Jefferson

I like Van Jefferson for the same reasons that I like Callaway. Both had breakout seasons in 2021 but have fallen on hard times since. Jefferson is the higher pedigree player and the overall better fit as this team’s second option. He can excel vertically, kick inside, and run sharp routes.

While his stats in Atlanta were poor, he was traded there mid-season and had to try and catch a moving train. Arthur Smith liked him enough to bring him to Pittsburgh, and I think he can do enough different things to warrant being the second target for this offense.

1. George Pickens

As if it could be anyone else. The Steelers have made some puzzling choices in their receiver room this offseason, but that has also set up George Pickens for what could be a huge year. Talent has never been the question, as Pickens has been a human highlight reel but has lacked consistent results due to poor quarterback play.

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That should be improved this year. The question will now be if he can truly rise to an elite level and still produce despite defenses being able to focus on him. If he can, he is in store for a monster year and a major payday given the current state of the receiver market. That said, Pickens is the clear top dog on this team and the best receiver option heading into 2024.