The Steelers wide receiver depth has been questioned often this off-season thanks to the departure of both Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery. Those two combined for 113 receptions and 16 touchdowns last season. To help make up for those losses the Steelers brought in free agents Lance Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey. They also drafted Martavis Bryant in the fourth round. Everybody also expects second year wideout Markus Wheaton to make a huge leap this year by becoming the number two receiver under only Antonio Brown on the depth chart. It appears the Steelers have some decent talent at the wide receiver position but there is still no clear cut number two, three, four, or five receiver.
One player that has been overlooked probably only because he hasn’t played in an NFL game yet is Justin Brown. The second year receiver spent his rookie season on the Steelers practice squad after being drafted in the sixth round out of Oklahoma. Despite having no NFL experience, Brown has earned more reps in the past three weeks of spring practices than some of the veterans. In fact, Justin Brown was given first-team reps alongside Antonio Brown and Lance Moore. The Steelers are giving Brown his chance to play and he apparently appears to be taking advantage of it. Ben Roethlisberger was quoted saying, “Justin is doing some great things. I just like that he keeps working to get better and every day you see improvement from him.” Wide receiver coach Richard Mann also had good things to say about Brown, “His body language is different. He’s just a different guy. He’s matured a lot.”
It seems that Brown will be in a battle to earn the fifth and probably final wide receiver roster spot between Heyward-Bey and Derek Moye. Expecting Justin Brown to turn into fellow sixth round draft pick Antonio Brown this year is a stretch. But if Brown continues to impress the coaches to earn a spot on the roster, he could definitely help the Steelers passing game. Especially if the other young receivers like Wheaton or Bryant don’t live up to the high expectations that have been set. It would be very comforting to think that Justin Brown could fill in and produce if needed. Getting anything from him would be huge for a Steelers offense that still has some questions surrounding it.