Emmanuel Sanders caught a career-high 44 passes in 2012.
Markus Wheaton and Justin Brown heard their names called by the Steelers on draft weekend. Wheaton, in particular, will try to help fill the void left by Mike Wallace, who signed with the Miami Dolphins.
This formula worked pretty well for the Steelers three years ago. They traded Super Bowl XLIII MVP Santonio Holmes in 2010, then drafted Emmanuel Sanders in the third round and Antonio Brown in the sixth round.
Brown and Sanders joined Wallace to make up the formidable Young Money Crew. With Wallace gone, it's a crew of two.
Those two need to elevate their performances for the Steelers to return to the playoffs in 2013.
Wheaton, Justin Brown, undrafted free agents and veterans will battle to fill out the depth chart behind Brown and Sanders.
Here's a look at what the Steelers' wide receiver depth chart will look like when everything is sorted out.
Unless otherwise noted, statistics are from NFL.com.
Antonio Brown might not have Mike Wallace's track speed, but he has the track record to be Ben Roethlisberger's top target in 2013.
Brown was the Steelers' Most Valuable Player in 2011 with 69 receptions for 1,108 yards and 2,211 all-purpose yards, a team record, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Brown led Steelers receivers with 66 catches last season but fumbled four times and lost two of them. Those two fourth-quarter turnovers, in losses at Oakland and Dallas, might have kept the Steelers out of the playoffs.
The slippage in Brown's play in 2012 was emblematic of the wide receiving corps and the team in general. Brown, entering his fourth season, has emerged as enough of a leader to take responsibility.
"It definitely was below the line," Brown told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "This year, we're out to get better as a group and get it back to a good level.”
Emmanuel Sanders was hours away from becoming a New England Patriot in April. He remained a Steeler because the team decided to match the offer sheet Sanders received from the Patriots.
Sanders hasn't caught more than 44 passes in any of his three seasons and has caught just five touchdowns. Had he become a Patriot, the Steelers would have received a third-round draft pick as compensation. But they also would have been woefully thin at wide receiver.
Sanders will take over Mike Wallace's spot as the outside receiver, according to NFL.com. With Wallace gone and more balls to go around, Sanders will have an opportunity to put up bigger numbers if he can avoid the injuries that dogged him in 2010 and 2011.
Like Brown, Sanders also could use a fumble-itis booster shot in 2013. He dropped three balls and lost two of them last season.
Sanders likely will be motivated by the pile of cash that awaits him in 2014 if he has a big year. He's playing under a one-year, $2.5 million contract and becomes an unrestricted free agent after the season.
Although he's technically taking over Wallace's role in the offense, Sanders might not be able to take the top off a defense the way Wallace did. However, his contract-year ignition could help him match Brown's production in 2013.
The Steelers would take that even if it means losing him next year.
Like Mike Wallace in 2009 and Emmanuel Sanders in 2010, expect Markus Wheaton to make his presence felt as a rookie third-round draft pick.
Jerricho Cotchery will be 31 next season, and Plaxico Burress will be 36. Unless Wheaton is a slow learner, he should move ahead of them on the depth chart in short order.
Wheaton wasn't allowed to attend organized team activities, according to Steel City Insider (subscription required), because he doesn't graduate from Oregon State until June 14. But according to Jim Wexell of Steel City Insider, he made an impression at rookie camp.
Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley told Wexell that Wheaton can line up in more spots than Wallace and even has characteristics of a running back.
Before the draft, NFL.com said Wheaton's "quickness is blatant and dangerous," projecting the 5'11", 189-pounder as a first- or second-round pick and comparing him to Antonio Brown.
Wheaton is Oregon State's all-time leading pass-catcher with 227—more than Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh. He's also third in school history, with 2,994 receiving yards and sixth with 16 receiving touchdowns.
Jerricho Cotchery, who will be 31 next season, caught 16 passes in 2011 and 17 last season.
In seven seasons with the Jets, he caught an average of 51 passes per season.
Cotchery has been lost in the shuffle with Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders ahead of him. That's not likely to change with Markus Wheaton replacing Wallace in the big three.
However, Cotchery should withstand challenges for the No. 4 spot from Plaxico Burress (36 next season) and any first- or second-year player.
The Steelers have tried to incorporate Cotchery into their red-zone offense. If Heath Miller isn't ready to go on opening day, Cotchery will get the ball thrown his way a lot early in the season when the Steelers are inside the 20.
Look for J.D. Woods, an undrafted free agent from West Virginia, to win the Steelers' No. 5 receiver spot in training camp.
Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey both caught 114 passes for the Mountaineers in 2012, and Woods still found a way to catch 61. He caught 13 balls in a 70-63 win over Baylor, which was ranked No. 25 at the time.
Woods is well-versed in the Steeler way. Former West Virginia coach Bill Stewart gave Steelers coach Mike Tomlin his first assistant coaching position in college, according to West Virginia Illustrated.
A No. 5 receiver pretty much needs to play special teams to earn his keep. Plaxico Burress, who will be 36 in August, isn't likely to do that.
Justin Brown dropped a lot of passes at Penn State, according to Steel City Insider (subscription required). Then he transferred to Oklahoma and caught 73 passes in 2012.
Former Dallas Cowboys vice president of player personnel Gil Brandt said Brown isn't a great route-runner.
Even though he's 6'4", the sixth-round draft pick won't be kept on the 53-man roster just to replace Burress' height.
David Gilreath played in three games for the Steelers last season, but the Steelers are his fifth team in two years.
Derek Moye and Kashif Moore have yet to dress for an NFL game and have been with three teams in one season.
Woods' 61 receptions in 2012 are more than Gilreath, Moye and Moore had in any of their college seasons.
Moye caught 53 passes in 2010 as a junior at Penn State, according to Sports Reference. Moore caught 41 passes in 2011 as a senior at Connecticut. Gilreath caught 31 in 2008 as a sophomore at Wisconsin.
Woods can surpass that trio on the depth chart even if he doesn't dress for every game in 2013.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin loves return specialists. If he could carve out a roster spot for Stefan Logan in 2009 and Allen Rossum in 2007, he can find room for Reggie Dunn in 2013.
Dunn returned four kickoffs 100 yards for touchdowns at Utah in 2012, an NCAA record for one season. He also owns the NCAA record with five 100-yard touchdowns on kickoff returns in his collegiate career.
Dunn wasn't invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, but he ran a 4.22 40-yard dash at Utah's pro day, according to Joe Starkey of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. That's faster than any time run at the combine since at least 2006, according to NFL.com.
The 5'10", 178-pound Dunn caught only 31 passes in three seasons at Utah. Since he's not likely to be used on plays from scrimmage, the Steelers would have to carry six receivers for Dunn to make the 53-man roster.
Before penciling in Dunn for any touchdowns, remember that both Rossum and Logan lasted just one season in Pittsburgh.
Rossum returned one kickoff for a touchdown but was 48th in the league with a kick-return average of 23.3 yards.
Logan didn't score any touchdowns for the Steelers in 2009.
At least both of them returned punts. Dunn didn't even do that at Utah. Starkey hinted that it could be because he wasn't able to field punts.
If he can learn to do that, he'll have a job in Pittsburgh.