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Roman Wilson

Rookie could make quick impact in Pittsburgh

Some probably saw the story this week speculating the Steelers could be looking to add a No. 2 wide receiver. They traded Diontae Johnson, and the veteran candidates to replace him are "headlined" by Van Jefferson and Quez Watkins. But it was weird the article didn't mention rookie third-rounder Roman Wilson.

In this specific case, I think the writer just screwed up, and whatever, journalism is hard and I'm not going to pick on him too much. More broadly, though, I think people tend to remember guys like Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders doing very little as rookies, and thinking Pittsburgh might bring their drafted wideouts along slowly.

But in fact, the Steelers have had wide receivers contribute as rookies plenty in recent seasons. In the last seven years, four different Pittsburgh wideouts have finished in the top 40 (PPR scoring) in their rookie seasons.

Table shows Pittsburgh's top rookie wideouts since 2000. Brown, Sanders, Plaxico Burress -- those guys didn't do much. But more recently, a decent number of contributing rookies.

STEELERS WIDE RECEIVERS, YEAR 1 (2000-PRESENT)
YearPlayerTgtNoRecTDRk
2017JuJu Smith-Schuster7958917820
2020Chase Claypool109628731123
2009Mike Wallace7239756636
2006Santonio Holmes8649824338
2019Diontae Johnson9259680639
2022George Pickens8452801540
2002Antwaan Randle El6547489355
2014Martavis Bryant4826549861
2000Plaxico Burress6522273086
2010Emmanuel Sanders5028376287
2010Antonio Brown19161671119

Wilson didn't put up huge numbers for Jim Harbaugh's Michigan team, but that was a run-heavy offense. Last year was his best season (48 catches for 789 yards), with a quarter of those receptions (12) going for touchdowns.

Van Jefferson, Quez Watkins, Scotty Miller -- I'm not even going to name the other veteran wideouts on Pittsburgh's roster. I see no reason to think any of these guys is likely to keep their third-round pick off the field this season. Makes a lot of sense in the later round of drafts.

--Andy Richardson

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