The recent contract extension of Diontae Johnson means that the current group of Steelers wide receivers will be around for the next several years. This is as deep, and talented a group that this franchise has had in some time. This got us to thinking. What is the best group of wide outs the Steelers have ever had? Here’s the list we put together of the top five groups in Steelers history:
5. 1995 – Yancey Thigpen, Ernie Mills, Andre Hastings, Charles Johnson, Kordell Stewart
This is a group I’m sure most have forgotten about. It includes one of the most underrated wide receivers in Steelers history in Yancey Thigpen. In 1995 Thigpen caught 85 balls for 1367 yards and 5 touchdowns for the Steelers. Ernie MIlls chipped in for another 39/679/8 tds that season. Andre Hastings and Charles Johnson were above average third and fourth options as well. Then there was the X-factor of Kordell Stewart as a receiver to round out this talented bunch.
Oh, and let’s not forget this group came within a couple of horrendous Neil O’Donnell interceptions of becoming Super Bowl Champions. If you have the stomach, here’s the highlights: https://youtu.be/V2zx7y_9tyY
4. 1984 – John Stallworth, Louis Lipps, Weegie Thompson:
Another one of the Steelers wide receivers that remains criminally underrated is Louis Lipps. Combine him with Hall of Famer John Stallworth, and you have yourself quite the tandem in 1984. Stallworth still had his A-game in 1984, gaining 1395 yards and 11 touchdowns. While rookie sensation Lipps had 860 yards and 9 touchdowns. He averaged a whopping 19 yards per reception in his rookie campaign. Weegie Thompson was a decent third receiver in an era that did not value such a thing. He chipped in almost 300 yards and 3 touchdowns that season.
3. 2011 – Mike Wallace, Hines Ward, Antonio Brown, Emanuel Sanders
Ah the famous, or infamous depending on your point of view, “young money crew” of 2011. This quartet featured a prime Mike Wallace, and an up and coming Antonio Brown. Both players went for over a thousand yards that season. Throw in a talented player like Emmanuel Sanders, and an aging Hines Ward and this is one of the more talented groups of receivers in Steelers history.
2. 2017 – Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, Ju Ju Smith Schuster, Le’Veon Bell
This was a peak Antonio Brown season where he amassed 100 catches, 1533 yards, and 9 touchdowns. Brown was simply unstoppable at this point in his career. He was flanked by a still relevant Martavis Bryant, and rookie sensation Ju Ju Smith Schuster who went for 917 yards and 7 touchdowns in 2017. Then there was the ultimate pass-catching running back in Le’Veon Bell. He was as big a threat in the passing game as anyone not named AB that season. He went for 655 yards and 2 touchdowns through the air in 2017. This is a remarkable collection of talent that never reached its full potential.
1. 1979 – Lynn Swann, John Stallworth, Jim Smith
Obviously no Steelers wide receiver group will ever be number one without including the Lynn Swann/John Stallworth duo. They finished one and two in our greatest Steelers receivers of all time list Top 10 Steelers receivers all time
The two would combine for 2,000 yards, and 15 touchdowns in 1979. Jim Smith was also a talented pass catcher who was overshadowed by his Hall of Fame teammates. He would have 700 yards and 9 touchdowns filling in for the injured Stallworth in 1980. This trio would go on to win Super Bowl XVI versus the Los Angeles Rams.