It is easy to look back on a draft class and say, "Well this player should have been drafted 1st overall." Leave it to NFL.com to do just that as they have re-drafted - or re-labeled - all the wideouts who came out of the amazing draft class of 2014.
Chris Wesseling, who penned the piece, listed New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. as who should have been the drafted No. 1 overall, and after this adjustment he begins to put the wide receivers into categories. There are the 'Future Pro Bowlers', 'First-Round Playmakers', 'High Upside Projects With First-Round Talent' and the 'Solid Second Fiddles'.
You might be wondering where Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant fits in with this group as he exploded onto the scene in 2014 to the tune of 8 touchdowns in only 10 games played. Wesseling placed Bryant in the 'High Upside Projects with First-Round Talent' category, and see what made him place the receiver out of Clemson into that group.
A healthy scratch the first six weeks of the season, Bryant injected life into the Steelers' offense by repeatedly smoking cornerbacks deep and finally fulfilling Ben Roethlisberger's wishes for a red-zone weapon with size and length. A smooth athlete, Bryant offers an easy 39-inch vertical and 4.42 speed not often seen in a 6-foot-4 wideout. He's an obvious field-stretcher with the innate ability to track the ball in the air.
To the surprise of no one, the fourth-round pick was a rudimentary route runner, essentially limited to go routes, bubble screens and end-zone fades. As the No. 3 receiver, he was afforded the luxury of feasting on mismatches against subpackage corners en route to eight touchdowns in 10 games.
The Question: Will he remain a one-trick pony?
Lacking polish, Bryant benefited from stacked sets that allowed him to escape the jam at the line of scrimmage. He'll need to bulk up to win more often at the catch point and break tackles on screens and slants. His most important mandate is to master Todd Haley's offense and hone his route running, allowing him to develop into a complete receiver.
Comparison: Chris Henry
The comparison to Henry might be a very valid comparison. Henry had the speed, size and athleticism to take the top off the defense and be a red zone threat with his jumping ability. All attributes Bryant holds as well. I feel Bryant is bigger and stronger than Henry, but only time will tell if the comparison comes to fruition.
In terms of Bryant's raw skill, there is no denying his route running and fluidity in and out of his breaks needs to improve. Nonetheless, Bryant benefiting from stacked sets will only continue as the Steelers look to build an offense which will act as a 'pick your poison' style unit. Stop Antonio Brown, Bryant will take advantage on the other side. Want to play a deep zone and take away the deep pass, be prepared for Heath Miller and Le'Veon Bell to abuse you underneath.
Todd Haley and Ben Roethlisberger have plenty of weapons at their disposal in 2015. The question is, can they put them in situations for them to succeed? Only time will tell, but Bryant should be a big part of the team's plan heading into 2015.