As the Pittsburgh Steelers gave Darrius Heyward Bey a shiny new one-year contract Wednesday, the Steelers have now filled four wide receiver positions heading into the 2015 season. Although the team certainly could still look for competition at the wide out position through the draft, wide receiver is one of the few positions the team doesn't need to focus on heading into the 2015 NFL Draft.
Some say Antonio Brown is the best pound-for-pound receiver in the NFL. My thought is those people need to drop the pound-for-pound tag and simply say what is true: Brown is the best wide receiver in the NFL - period. Brown's incredible work ethic and dedication to his craft makes him nearly uncoverable in today's game. Brown has finished in the top 3 in receptions and yardage the past two years and looks to continue his dominance in 2015.
With Brown drawing safety help nearly every play, it usually leaves one side of the field open to be exploited. The Steelers didn't have a player who could exploit those matchups, until Martavis Bryant burst on the season in 2014. Bryant has the size and speed to win one-on-one matchups on the outside, and will be an extremely good red zone target for Ben Roethlisberger moving forward in his career. No one could benefit more from Brown's attention than Bryant, and he could certainly explode on the scene in his sophomore season.
Lost in the shuffle of all the Bryant and Brown talk is Markus Wheaton. Wheaton was slated for the No. 2 wide receiver position, but by the end of the season he had the look of a crafty slot receiver. With Brown and Bryant on the outside, Wheaton's exceptional route running skills will allow him to utilize the middle of the field and take advantage of the defensive shifts given to the outside receivers. Entering his third season, Wheaton is due to find his niche in this offense, and the No. 3 wide receiver working the slot could certainly be his spot.
Darrius Heyward Bey brings a veteran presence to the group, but his inability to be a solid pass catcher severely limits his playing time. Fankly, Heyward Bey was most likely brought back due to his versatility and ability to play special teams. For what Heyward Bey lacks in pass catching skills he makes up for in speed and a team-first attitude. His new one-year contract certainly doesn't guarantee him a spot on the 53-man roster as the team will keep their options open heading into the upcoming NFL Draft, but as the Steelers have learned in the past, special teams deserves some attention in terms of how games play out.
Other receivers on the team's roster who are vying for a spot during training camp are: Tim Benford, Brelan Chancellor, C.J. Goodwin and L'Damian Washington.
The Steelers receiving corps is as talented as any in the NFL, but not as deep as one might think. Look for the Steelers to add to this list heading into the 2015 season.