Steelers select WR JuJu Smith-Schuster in Round 2 of 2017 NFL Draft
With the 62nd pick in the NFL Draft, the Steelers select wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster from USC.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 29, 2017
This is a pick I did not see coming at all. Most expected the Steelers to select a cornerback or safety in the second, but they had other plans in mind though: and chose a wide receiver.
The pick makes sense when examining the Steelers roster and pre-draft visits. Martavis Bryant has been conditionally reinstated after facing a year-long suspension, and though many are optimistic about his return, it is still tough to rely on him. The Steelers also have Sammie Coates who flashed potential last season but wasn’t able to prove to be a consistent option.
Beyond Antonio Brown, and arguably Eli Rogers, the Steelers lack a consistent (and consistently healthy) receiving option. We saw how the team struggled in the latter half of the season with limited options. With Ben entering the twilight of his career, it’s smart to get him more weapons.
This pick doesn’t bode well for some of the receivers lower on the depth chart either. Justin Hunter, Cobi Hamilton, Demarcus Ayers, and Darrius Heyward-Bey will all be on the chopping block. It’s going to be a fun competition at training camp this year!
Regarding pre-draft visits, this pick proved to be an accurate indicator of the Steelers draft plans once again. The Steelers brought in five wide receivers for pre-draft visits (tied with cornerbacks as the second most visited position). It was clear the team had an interest in adding to this position group. Chris Godwin was also a candidate to be drafted here. He was brought in for a pre-draft visit and has a similar profile to Smith-Schuster.
Now to Ju-Ju Smith-Schuster himself.
If there’s anything to say about Smith-Schuster, it’s that he is a big man. Standing at 6’1, 215 lbs with 32 7/8″ arms, Ben Roethlisberger just got a big target and a weapon he’s going to have fun with in hte passing game. Smith-Schuster will provide Ben with a reliable, physical option.
He may not be a burner like Bryant and Coates, but unlike those guys, he does not struggle with drops. He represents a different type of receiver that the Steelers currently don’t have on their roster. Antonio Brown provides an all-around threat, Bryant and Coates are burners/big-play options, and Rogers is a shift slot receiver. But Smith-Schuster will be a physical possession receiver.
The Steelers may now have the most dynamic receiving depth chart in the league!
For those who wanted secondary help, don’t forget that this defensive back draft class is deep. A talented cornerback and/or safety will likely fall to them at some point. The Steelers are fortunate that they did not have any pressing needs beyond edge rusher this year. They can afford to go with the best player available and it’s clear they saw Smith-Schuster as the best player on the board.
While I would have preferred a player on defense for the Steelers, selecting a wide receiver makes sense and it’s hard to be mad about Ben getting another weapon. Smith-Schuster is a passionate, physical player who will fit right in with the Pittsburgh culture.
Welcome to Pittsburgh Ju-Ju!
PITTSBURGH WHAT'S UPPPPPPP!!!!!!!! So proud to be a Steeler!!!!!
— Juju Smith-Schuster (@TEAM_JUJU9) April 29, 2017