The Pittsburgh Steelers hosted just one pre-draft visitor on Tuesday, and it was another offensive player. For the second straight day the team hosted a wide receiver, which possibly shows the team is seriously considering drafting a wide receiver in the mid-rounds of the 2016 NFL Draft to bolster the position for the future.
The team certainly should look to the future, considering the uncertainty of Martavis Bryant's troubles as well as Markus Wheaton entering a contract year before hitting the free agent market. With that said, the team is looking to make sure the cupboard isn't bare in those situations, and they brought in a player who resembles another receiver on the Steelers' roster for a visit.
WR Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma only visitor for Steelers today. That's predraft visitor 26. 4 more to go. Only 4 of 26 have been on offense— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly_Trib) April 12, 2016
Sterling Shepard from Oklahoma is a young athlete who resembles Antonio Brown's skill set in terms of how they play the game. A smaller receiver, 5-feet 10-inches and 194-pounds, who is known for his dynamic play making ability, but not so much his overall straight line speed.
Between Martavis Bryant, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Antonio Brown, Brown is the slowest of the group, but certainly doesn't allow that to hold him back. Shepard ran a 4.48 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, which is hardly slow, but a near 4.5 can cause some scouts to scratch their heads.
Shepard finished his Sooners career with 223 receptions for 3,482 yards and 26 touchdowns and was a semifinalist for the Biletnikoff Award as a senior. He earned an invitation to the Senior Bowl, where he earned the Practice Player of the Week award among wide receivers.
Shepard is projected as a 2nd or 3rd round draft pick, but the Steelers would be wise to keep an eye on this prospect.
Per his CBSSports.com scouting report, read his strengths and weaknesses and ask yourself if they couldn't be saying the same exact thing about Antonio Brown.
STRENGTHS: Coordinated athlete with electric feet off the line of scrimmage and at the top of his route to gain separation and give his quarterback a target. He has quick eyes to make snap decision, tracking the ball well to make tough grabs look easy. Displays quick feet and movements at the line of scrimmage to avoid press and works well in tight spaces with his shifty moves and quick eyes.
Shepard is a nightmare to cover because he possesses the straight-line speed to beat defenders over the top, as well as the quickness and balance to change directions in a flash. He shows soft, reliable hands to pluck the ball outside of his frame, as well as the awareness and toughness to "body catch" when necessary to protect the ball.
Brings additional value with punt return experience.
WEAKNESSES: Shepard has an undersized frame that makes him often out-matched vs. physical corners. Quicker than he is fast.
The Steelers might want to keep tabs on this prospect, as he could make an already elite offense great...for years to come.