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NFL Combine

Steelers WRs Coach Zach Azzanni Leads Drills At NFL Combine



Pittsburgh Steelers WR Coach Zach Azzanni

New Pittsburgh Steelers wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni led the drills for the receivers at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. Azzanni was hired as the Steelers wide receivers coach on Feb. 10.

Former Steelers linebackers coach Jerry Olsavsky and current defensive line coach Karl Dunbar have constructed drills at the Combine in past years. Former Steelers scout Mark Gorscak, who’s now a scout with the Senior Bowl, still leads the 40-yard dash.

Azzanni, 47, comes to the Steelers from the New York Jets, where he spent the 2023 season. He has also had stops coaching wide receivers in the NFL with the Denver Broncos from 2018-22 and the Chicago Bears in 2017.

Azzanni has ties to former Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown, as the two were together at Central Michigan from 2007-09. Azzanni was the assistant head coach and wide receivers coach and was instrumental in Brown coming to campus in 2007.

In his last six seasons as a wide receivers coach, Azzanni has only seen two 1000-yard receivers in Courtland Sutton in 2021 and Garrett Wilson this past season. The other wide receivers were largely disappointing, but since most are veterans, it’s hard to know how much of that to place on Azzanni, especially given the quarterback play they received.

Azzanni has reputation of being a hard-nosed, no-nonsense wide receivers coach. The Steelers didn’t get the most out of their receivers in 2023, as a lack of effort showed up on numerous occasions with George Pickens and Diontae Johnson.The Steelers are hoping that Azzanni can correct those issues.

Given the condensed sets that the Steelers will be using in Arthur Smith’s offense, blocking from the receivers will be crucial. He wants that type of toughness and effort from his guys throughout the game. Azzanni’s style as a receiver coach matches Smith’s personality and philosophy, so it makes sense why the Steelers hired him. His track record with developing and molding Brown also is a positive. In addition, he developed Cordarrelle Patterson, Justin Hunter and Josh Malone during his time at Tennessee.

The Steelers met with multiple top wide receiver prospects at the Combine. The headliner of that group was LSU’s Brian Thomas and Washington’s Romo Odunze, both are projected as first-round picks. Thomas had a formal meeting with Mike Tomlin.

The Steelers held other meetings with Oregon’s Troy Franklin, Texas’ Adonai Mitchell, Florida State’s Keon Coleman, and Washington’s Jalen McMillan. Those four players are all projected to go either on the draft’s first day or early day two. Pittsburgh has not cast a super wide net on wide receiver, opting to either meet with guys with speed or tough slot receivers that can add that grit to Smith’s offense.