Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor is working out again, which is good, and he's doing it with West Virginia wide receiver and draft hopeful Tavon Austin, which is intriguing.
If nothing else, it's encouraging to learn Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor is working out already. The Steelers' iron man missed his first games since 2006 after fracturing his leg in Week 13, but Daniel Dudley of Trib Live Radio pointed out he's been working out recently with former West Virginia product, and 2013 NFL Draft hopeful Tavon Austin.
And Taylor likes what he sees from the diminutive playmaking wide receiver.
It's in no way reflective of an official endorsement from the Steelers on a potential draft target (and recent endorsements coming from certain Steelers players who played at Florida have rung hollow), but it does shine some light on a significant problem among the Steelers roster heading into the 2013 season.
They don't have any wide receivers.
With a long process of East-West Shrine games, and Senior Bowls and Combines still to go in this draft season, it's far too early to suggest a player with Austin's makeup will or won't be a first round pick - although it appears more likely he's at best a later first round selection - but the fact is the Steelers currently have two receivers signed for the 2013 season, Antonio Brown (who suffered a nearly 30 percent drop in production from 2011) and Jerricho Cotchery (played approximately one quarter of the Steelers' offensive snaps in 2012).
Mike Wallace is expected to sign for big bucks as an unrestricted free agent somewhere else. Emmanuel Sanders is expected to get an original round tender offer in restricted free agency and will most likely be around in 2013, sliding into Wallace's split end position, meaning the Steelers will have to replace their third receiver.
Sanders was on the field for nearly 75 percent of the Steelers' snaps in 2012.
There are plenty of naysayers who feel the Steelers' No. 17 overall pick should be used at a position that does not include the word "receiver," and perhaps that's a fair statement, but it doesn't answer the question of who the Steelers will use as their third receiver - a position that's gaining much more prominence as offenses get more diverse with each passing year.
While Austin would fit more in the mold of the non-physical but highly explosive receiver mold the Steelers have with Brown (and soon-to-be-had with Wallace), he would give them the return element they'll miss with the release of Chris Rainey.
Maybe he's a trade-down target. Maybe the Steelers are more interested in a bigger target like Cal's Keenan Allen (who, despite Suggs-ing himself in a basketball game during spring practice in 2012 has shown high level potential). Whomever it is, and wherever they're looking, the Steelers need to bring in receiving help in this year's draft, and it seems likely it'll be more than one.
Taylor seems to think Austin would be worth a look.