This NFL Draft prospect is the dream for Steelers after trading WR Diontae Johnson

Don't rule out a WR in Round 1 for the Steelers; This high-upside prospect would be a perfect fit.

Texas A&M v LSU
Texas A&M v LSU / Jonathan Bachman/GettyImages
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The Pittsburgh Steelers left a trail of breadcrumbs that they wanted to move on from Diontae Johnson, and during the NFL's legal tampering period, they got their wish. While trading a quality starting receiver for an unspectacular starting cornerback and a late-round pick-swap hardly seems like a great deal, Pittsburgh can now focus on improving the WR room the way they want.

This trade puts the Steelers in quite a predicament. With Johnson gone (and Allen Robinson released days before free agency) George Pickens and Calvin Austin III are the only viable options for the position.

The decision to trade Johnson may have created more problems than it solved, but it certainly opened the door for the Pittsburgh Steelers to take a wide receiver as soon as the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft.

Brian Thomas Jr. is exactly what the Steelers want at wide receiver

Many fans were shocked to see the Pittsburgh Steelers using a handful of their 45 formal visits at the NFL Scouting Combine on the top receivers in the class. Obviously, Omar Khan and company didn't bother meeting with players like Marvin Harrison Jr. or Malik Nabers -- who will both be long gone before their pick -- but they did have meetings with guys like Adonai Mitchell, Keon Coleman, and even Rome Odunzi.

Perhaps their most notable meeting, however, came with LSU's Brian Thomas.

All of these receivers have a type; they are big-bodied pass-catchers who can go up and get the ball and who possess the frame to block in the running game. This is something that Arthur Smith will look for in his next wide receiver.

While this is a remarkably strong WR class, Thomas is particularly interesting. At roughly 6'3'' and 209 pounds with long arms, Thomas possesses electric 4.33 speed (which is remarkably fast for a player his size).

Thomas also checks nearly every box the Steelers look for in a first-round pick. He has tremendous athletic traits, he's 21 years old, he is coming off a year of elite production, and he comes from an SEC school that routinely produces NFL talent.

Thomas has drawn NFL player comparisons to former electrifying Steeler, Martavis Bryant. Both players share similar sizes, athletic traits, and play styles. Obviously, Bryant's prime was cut short due to numerous suspensions, but his ability to maximize the upside of an offense was through the roof when he was on the field.

In a class loaded with outstanding wide receivers, there's almost no chance that Thomas is one of the top three drafted, as Harrison Jr., Nabers, and Odunze are unanimously considered the top three wide-outs in the class.

This certainly doesn't mean that Thomas isn't worth being drafted high. In many years, Thomas could have been the WR1, but the 2024 NFL Draft is so loaded at the top that Thomas could slip a bit.

Obviously, the Steelers have plenty of other needs that could be addressed. Offensive tackle, center, and cornerback are still priorities. But if Brian Thomas Jr. slips to the 20th overall pick, this could be the best value selection on the board at a big position of need.

There's no doubt that Brian Thomas Jr. would be a tremendous fit with the Steelers, and I would expect the LSU standout to be high on Pittsburgh's radar entering the NFL Draft.

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