The spot opposite Antonio Brown is up for grabs, and trust me when I say it’s a piece of prime NFL real estate. In 2013, the starting spot opposite Brown was manned by a platoon of Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery, and they were able to put up very good numbers. The two combined for 113 receptions, 1,342 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Going into camp this year, there are essentially three guys working for that spot. Markus Wheaton has a year in the system, even though 2013 was essentially a redshirt year. His game mirrors Brown in many ways.
The veteran entry into the competition is Lance Moore. Moore comes over from the New Orleans Saints, but has never been able to live up to his talent on the field. Moore only topped 1,000 yards once in his career (2012), and has topped 10 receiving touchdowns one year as well (2008). Nevertheless, Moore has a veteran savvy about his game that could appeal to a veteran quarterback like Ben Roethlisberger.
The final contestant in this competition is the rookie. Martavis Bryant comes to Pittsburgh with a package of skills that neither Wheaton nor Moore possess. His size is elite (6’4”, 211 pounds), and his speed is on par with any other receiver on the roster.
However, starting Bryant means dealing with his growing pains on the field. Bryant is raw in both his routes and his hands. With the depth this team has, it might be best to let him learn in a more limited role.
Who wins? This is Wheaton’s job to lose. Much like Sanders last year, he is going to be given every opportunity to start opposite Brown. However, much like last year, if Wheaton struggles with consistency, a veteran like Moore is going to be right there to fill in those targets, like Cotchery did in 2013.