Keith Srakocic/Associated Press
It seemed as if the Steelers’ receiving corps could go nowhere but down after the offseason departures of Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery. And by some measures, they have.
Sanders and Cotchery were both well integrated into Pittsburgh’s offense. Each posted his best season as a Steeler and the duo combined for 1,342 yards and 16 touchdowns. That production won’t be easy to match.
That being said, as pointed out by ESPN’s Scott Brown, the Steelers have injected a wealth of new, if largely inexperienced, talent into their receiver unit.
Markus Wheaton, last year’s third-rounder, essentially redshirted his rookie season. He enters his second year poised to start opposite Antonio Brown. The two, like Brown and Sanders last year, are comparable from a physical standpoint.
Free-agent acquisition Lance Moore is a savvy vet, just like Cotchery was upon joining the team last year. He’s got the hands and route-running ability to immediately replace Cotchery’s yardage production.
Behind those two is a cast of physically gifted, but largely raw individuals. Darrius Heyward-Bey has been labeled a bust, but he could prove valuable as a situational deep threat. Incoming freshman Martavis Bryant has the physical tools to dominate in the NFL. Even former Penn State teammates Justin Brown and Derek Moye are in the running for a roster spot.