Playing in space is a key attribute of today's successful NFL skill position player.
It's a shorter passing game. The emphasis is on completions and letting a receiver's quickness and ability to elude tacklers serve as more of the team's running game. The Steelers enact this principle well in Todd Haley's offense, simply having the quarterback check a play into a quick, high-percentage screen when the numbers favor one.
That, in turn, forces a defense to account for every player at the line of scrimmage, hindering their ability to disguise coverage. In other words, it's an offense's pre-snap counter-punch that makes a defense appear honest.
ESPN draft analyst highlights some of this notion with his 2014 All-Satellite Team, a group of 2014 NFL Draft eligible players who play the best in space. Coming in at the top of his list is LSU wide receiver, and potential Steelers draft pick, Odell Beckham.
Beckham has elite top-end speed, but that's only part of what makes him so good in space. He accelerates quickly, frequently makes the first defender miss after the catch and is a very instinctive open-field runner who knows when to cut back against the grain. He uses his fluid hips and quick feet to get defenders off-balance in space, using a variety of shoulder dips, inside-outs and other moves. He has the potential to develop into a dangerous return specialist in the NFL.
Between Steelers WR Antonio Brown (110 catches) and Emmanuel Sanders (67 catches), no pair of receivers caught more screen passes in the NFL in 2013. Clearly, they put a premium on guys who can make plays in space. They are developing another good space player in Markus Wheaton, and adding Beckham to that mix could yield a pretty dangerous three receiver set. Add in tight end Heath Miller and running back Le'Veon Bell into a no-huddle scenario...Ben Roethlisberger probably just woke up from a beautiful daydream envisioning all he could do with that kind of personnel at his disposal.
This isn't to suggest Beckham should be the Steelers' guy at 15, but he'd be a pretty solid addition to what the team already has in place.