When you sit down to list the needs of the Pittsburgh Steelers, one thing can be easily overlooked. This team needs a punt returner…..badly. Antonio Brown stopped making plays in the return game three years ago, and honestly the team doesn’t want him doing it any longer anyway. They’ve tried other players like Dri Archer, Jacoby Jones, and Eli Rogers, but always end up back with AB. Figuring out a new return man will be high on the list for off-season moves in Pittsburgh.
It just so happens there is an incredible punt returner who should be available in the second to third round range of the draft. Dante Pettis, a wide receiver out of the University of Washington, is hands down this years best returner. In 2017 alone, Pettis averaged over 20 yards per attempt, and scored four touchdowns. He has nine punt return touchdowns in his career at Washington. This is clearly an elite player in this category, but that’s not all he does. Pettis is a pretty good receiver as well. He has a total of 22 touchdowns between his junior and senior seasons, to go along with 1,600 yards receiving. Pettis is a smaller receiver, weighing in at the combine at 6’0″ and 186lbs. Slot receiver will probably be his best position at the NFL level.
Dante Pettis could make an immediate impact on the Steelers in the return game. He would also provide wide receiver depth, giving them a different kind of weapon than currently exists on the roster. Eventually Pettis could take over the slot receiver role if the team moves on from Martavis Bryant, with Ju Ju Smith-Schuster taking his place outside. All in all, a player with this skill set would be a real value in the late second/early third round. It would fill a position of need now, and in the future for the Steelers.