One of the reoccurring things coming out of Steelers training camp so far is how good the corners have been looking. This group has been almost universally praised for how they have performed thus far. Being the pessimist I am, this got me to thinking. Are the corners really that good, or is the competition they’re up against that bad? I mean after AB and JuJu there isn’t really much left to get excited about. Let’s go down the depth chart and analyze what’s there:
Number 3 – Justin Hunter: Yep you are seeing this correctly. At this point you’d have to say Hunter is number three on the depth chart. He is having another terrific camp so far by all accounts. This of course translates into nothing during the regular season if history is any indication. Hunter does have the size and speed to be an impact player in this league. Entering year six of his career, we haven’t seen any sign of this once the real games start. Is this the year he finally puts it all together? For this team’s sake, they better hope so.
Number 4 – James Washington: The easy narrative to follow would be to say the Steelers know what they’re doing when it comes to drafting receivers. There may be no better team in the league at evaluating that position. Having said that, I have my concerns about about an undersized receiver, with average speed, who made his living on big plays in college. Washington did not reach the 80th percentile in any category at the combine. He has great tape coming out of Oklahoma St., but the measurables don’t match the production. Even the Steelers can misjudge a receiver once and a while, and this very well could be the one.
Number 5 – Darrius Heyward-Bey: By the end of last season I would’ve told you there was less than a ten percent chance Bey would be on the roster in 2018. Fast forward to today, and I’d say he’s the leader to be the fifth, and possibly last wide receiver to make the 53. Once again the fact that he is a superior special teams player gives him an edge over the other hopefuls. When you get this far down on the depth chart, playing special teams becomes more and more important.
Number 6 – Eli Rogers: Eli would be higher on this list if he weren’t coming back from a major injury. At his best, Rogers is a serviceable slot receiver. It remains to be seen what he is now that he’s coming off knee surgery. At best, Rogers is a huge question mark.
Best of the rest: There has been a little buzz about Marcus Tucker. He’s another potential slot receiver in the Eli Rogers mold. I keep seeing Damoun Patterson’s name coming up in training camp reports. He’s having a good camp by all indications. Justin Thomas and Quadree Henderson are return guys at best.