This is not about Toney Clemons' struggle for a roster spot. We all know Clemons must put on a good show in the remaining two preseason games if he hopes to make the final 53. That goes without saying. This is about why the Steelers need a guy like Clemons.
Everyone will welcome Mike Wallace when he returns. Wallace is fast. Really fast. In his absence, Antonio Brown has been showing off his skills. He has looked pretty good doing so. He has shown that he can be a legitimate #1 on many teams. Emmanuel Sanders is promising and we expect big things from him, assuming he stays healthy. Jerricho Cotchery is a great asset and would likely be higher on the depth chart on many other teams. Blah blah blah. We've heard all of this before.
We know what these guys can do. We know what they are good at. What hasn't been talked about much is the one thing these guys don't do particularly well. The one skill they are missing, or at least do not excel at, is one thing that I believe has hurt the Steelers in the red zone. That one thing is the ability to "go up and get it". We're not talking about pulling down a pass that got away from the QB a little. We're talking about that purposely high throw to the back of the end zone. That throw where the receiver has two guys on his back but goes up and rips the the ball out of the air like a rabid bridesmaid.
Wallace's speed doesn't help much in the red zone. You can't outrun someone in the stretch of couple yards. Brown and Sanders are very athletic and can make some great catches, but they're not the biggest guys in the world and could get lost in coverage deep in the red zone. Cotchery is probably the most ideally suited of the group. He's got some good size, but I'm not confident he has the "ups" to fill this role.
I was really impressed with David Gilreath. I think he has shown enough to earn him a shot somewhere. I don't think it should be in Pittsburgh, however. It has nothing to do with lack of talent. The Steelers just don't need another small / fast receiver. Wallace is listed at 6'0", 199, Brown 5'10", 186, Sanders 5'11", 180. Cotchery is the biggest at 6'1, 200.
Clemons is 6'2", and a solid 210. With a 36" vertical, we know he can jump. The Steelers brought him in because they believed he has the ability to go up for jump balls in tough situations and make "combat catches". Assuming he can improve his consistency, I think Clemons should be the top consideration for the fifth wide receiver spot. He may not have been the most impressive in camp / preseason so far, but his skill set could prove very valuable to the Steelers. Without a serious red zone threat among your wideouts, there's only so much your tight ends and running backs will be able to do in the red zone. A player like Clemons could open Haley's playbook and make the Steelers a serious threat in the red zone.