The Pittsburgh Steelers had a plan for an overhaul at wide receiver, and they nailed it in the 2022 NFL Draft.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are often well-known for their prowess selecting wide receivers in the draft. They’ve turned selections into incredible players for a long time. Diontae Johnson has been fabulous for them as a 2019 third-round selection. Chase Claypool started off slower, but he’s coming on as we look to year three for him.
Still, losing Juju Smith-Schuster hurts, and the Steelers clearly wanted to make a splash after selecting Kenny Pickett in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
They got a potential “X” receiver in George Pickens in round two. Pickens had some maturity issues floating around NFL circles, with quotes flying in all over the place under a couple weeks out from the draft. Pickens has the size to be a ball-winner, and consistently positions himself well at the catch point. He has some of the best hands in the class, makes spectacular plays, has impressive explosiveness, and could be a consistent vertical winner. He has flashed the ability to work into blind spots and snap off routes, and has some flashes after the catch as well. This also gives Claypool the opportunity to get back into the slot.
The Steelers also selected a receiver in round four, getting some value in Memphis WR Calvin Austin III. Austin was a smaller receiver with ridiculous speed, and many thought that if Tutu Atwell could go in the second, so could Austin. It wasn’t meant to be, but this is a fun landing spot.
Austin flashes the hip sink and explosiveness to win as a route runner, and has the easy speed to win in a straight line or after the catch. His route running savvy showed up in Mobile, and he’ll be able to provide return value in 2022, even if he gets limited snaps.
The Pittsburgh Steelers clearly wanted to upgrade the WR room, and they did it in spades in the 2022 NFL Draft.