It’s fair to say that the additions of Lance Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey have lessened the Pittsburgh Steelers’ need at wide receiver. This means the Steelers don’t have to, and likely won’t (depending on players available), spend a first-round pick on a wide receiver.
However, neither Moore nor Heyward-Bey should be seen as more than a short-term fix at the position.
After all, Moore is coming off his worst statistical season since an injury-shortened ’09 and will be on the wrong side of 30 by the time next season starts. At 27, Heyward-Bey has youth on his side, but the former seventh overall pick has been a colossal bust through five seasons.
Fortunately for Pittsburgh, they could bypass a receiver on Day 1 and still net an impact player. One who fits the bill well would be Penn State’s Allen Robinson.
With elite-level size and production, Robinson was considered a fringe first-rounder through much of the ’13 season. Due to a lackluster 4.60 40-yard dash, though, most recent mock drafts see him slide to Day 2, including Bleacher Report's own Matt Miller.
No, Robinson isn’t a burner, but is speed really a necessity in Pittsburgh’s current receiving corps? Heyward-Bey, Markus Wheaton and Antonio Brown all ran sub-4.50 40-yard dashes.
What Robinson lacks in speed he more than makes up for in several other facets of his game.
The 6’2”, 220-pounder showed great tackle-breaking and run-after-catch ability over his past two seasons in Happy Valley.
In fact, Robinson had at least one 40-plus-yard reception in eight of his team’s 12 games this past season. Not bad for a guy who lacks breakaway speed.
Where Robinson really excels is in high-pointing jump balls and pulling down contested passes. That much was evidenced in Robinson’s unforgettable grab in the Nittany Lions’ miraculous win over Michigan.
Facing a touchdown deficit with time winding down, freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg heaved up a prayer for Robinson. Robinson, though, was stuck behind a cornerback in much better position to pull down the underthrown pass.
Amazingly, Robinson plucked the ball from above the corner’s head and jump-started one of the most amazing victories in program history.
And that was with a freshman quarterback. The season before, Robinson caught passes from an overachieving walk-on in Matt McGloin.
Not to mention that the team’s next best receiver in both seasons was Brandon Felder, who will graduate with a single-season high of 437 receiving yards.
In spite of facing less-than-ideal circumstances, Robinson excelled at Penn State. Or more appropriately, he dominated. Robinson racked up nearly 2,500 yards in his two seasons as a starter and led the Big Ten in receiving both years as well.
There’s no telling what Robinson might have accomplished if he played with a more experienced or physically gifted quarterback. But if paired with Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers fans would get the chance to find out.
And odds are they’d like the result.