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2024 NFL Draft

Where Should Steelers Target WR in 2024 NFL Draft?



FILE - South Carolina wide receiver Xavier Legette (17) looks for his teammates after a 65-yard touchdown reception during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Jacksonville State on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023, in Columbia, S.C. South Carolina's best playmakers on offense the past two years are all gone, meaning this spring is a search for consistency and production from an attack that had its struggles last season. With Spencer Rattler and Legette awaiting NFL draft picks — Legette a likely first-rounder, Rattler a mid-round choice — it's up to inexperienced newcomers and transfers to push the Gamecocks forward. (AP Photo/Artie Walker Jr., File)

The Pittsburgh Steelers played with five wide receivers in the 2023 season. Three of them are not under contract for the 2024 season, leaving just George Pickens and Calvin Austin III in the room for this coming season.

The Steelers have done some work to replenish the depth so far, signing free agents Van Jefferson and Quez Watkins. But work remains, as both of those guys project to be lower-on-the-depth-chart options than the departed Diontae Johnson and Allen Robinson II.

When it comes to the 2024 NFL Draft, the Steelers will almost certainly hit the wide receiver position early, and might even double dip at that spot, with the team scouting many different types of wide receivers in the pre-draft process.

But where are they likely to find draft value at the position? 

Let’s start by taking a look at our Derrick Bell’s ranking of the Top Wide Receivers in the 2024 NFL Draft as a good place to start to evaluate the talent available. Derrick is trying to make a substantive evaluation of which players are best.

I’m going to look at this through the lens of where players are likely to be drafted. If we combine the two, we can find some value clusters for the Steelers to try to navigate toward in the draft.

The first number, before the player’s name, will be his ranking on Derrick’s big board. The second number is the player’s current average at NFL Mock Draft Database.


1. Marvin Harrison Jr., Ohio State – 4
2. Malik Nabers, LSU – 5
3. Rome Odunze, Washington – 6

There is little point in talking about these three, though the Steelers did have a formal interview at the combine with Odunze. They would have to trade up to hope to reach any of them, and with other needs at center, cornerback and tackle, that seems less than plausible.

Pittsburgh Steelers 2024 NFL Draft Target LSU WR Brian Thomas Jr.

LSU wide receiver Brian Thomas Jr. (11) carries on a touchdown reception past Army defensive back Cameron Jones (10) in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)


4. Adonai Mitchell, Texas – 29
5. Brian Thomas, LSU – 17

Even here, with two very high-quality players in Thomas and Mitchell, a pick at wide receiver doesn’t seem like the way the Steelers have usually operated. They haven’t drafted a wide receiver in the first round since Santonio Holmes in 2006, and those other needs will be a lot harder to address later in the draft than wide receiver, which is deep through the end of the second day.


6. Xavier Worthy, Texas – 34
7. Ladd McConkey, Georgia – 35
8. Troy Franklin, Oregon – 40
14. Keon Coleman, Florida State – 38

If the Steelers want to add a pick in order to help address those other issues, on the other hand, they could trade back in the first round, or into the early second round, and there are a bevy of receivers that would seem to fit their needs in that scenario.

Worthy, McConkey and Franklin seems to be cases of the hype being justified, while Coleman might not be a great value play here.

A trade down into this range from 20 would likely net the Steelers another Day 2 pick, allowing the team to address both wide receiver and center with players in the top 50 picks 50 or so, and they’d have three more Day 2 choices.

Pittsburgh Steelers 2024. NFL Draft Prospect Florida WR Ricky Pearsall

Ricky Pearsall, Florida Athletics


9. Ricky Pearsall, Florida – 52
11. Xavier Legette, South Carolina – 47
16. Roman Wilson, Michigan – 53

This feels like the Steelers’ sweet spot. They have three quality receivers in our Top 20, and two in the Top 15, projected to go within four picks of their second-round slot at No. 51. The chances of one of these players being available seems high, and the Steelers have shown interest in all of them.

Pearsall and Legette have had pre-draft visits, while the Steelers sent head coach Mike Tomlin, general manager Omar Khan and wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni to Wilson’s pro day in Ann Arbor.

The big problem is, if the Steelers don’t get a center in the first round, can they let that position go by again in order to target receiver?


12. Ja’Lynn Polk, Washington – 67
17. Devontez Walker, North Carolina – 61
19. Malachi Corley, WKU – 63

In terms of value, this group seems to fit just fine, with Washington’s Ja’Lynn Polk standing out as an above-average player for this grouping, but the Steelers don’t currently have a pick between No. 51 and No. 84, where all of these players are likely to fall. That might need to change, as there is again value in this group.

Pittsburgh Steelers 2024 NFL Draft Prospect Washington WR Jalen McMillan

Jalen McMillan, Washington Athletics


10. Jalen McMillan, Washington – 83
15. Jermaine Burton, Alabama – 75
NR Brenden Rice, USC – 90

If they decide to stay put and wait for there pick at No. 84, there are again some interesting options, especially McMillan, a likely slot player that is our No. 10 prospect, who figures to be available with a No. 83 overall average.

With two starters that need to be replaced, it’s really hard to envision the Steelers waiting longer than this to add a wide receiver. If they don’t take one before 84, they will have to find one of these prospects that they like.


13. Javon Baker, UCF – 97
18. Malik Washington, Virginia – 98
NR Johnny Wilson, Florida State – 117

There is still good value here at the end of the third round, with two more of our Top 20 prospects likely to be on the board. If the Steelers want to double dip and take two wide receivers in this draft, this is the likely their earliest option to do so.

Rice WR Luke McCaffrey

Luke McCaffrey, Rice Athletics


20. Jamari Thrash, Louisville – 131
NR Luke McCaffrey, Rice – 141
NR Jacob Cowing, Arizona – 139
NR Ainias Smith, Texas A&M – 143

This appears to be prime territory for a double dip, with thrash underrated by the public, and several interesting if limited other options, including NFL legacies McCaffrey and Smith. McCaffrey came to Pittsburgh for a visit on Thursday.


NR Cornelius Johnson, Michigan – 153
NR Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint, Georgia – 154
NR Ryan Flournoy, Southeast Missouri – 198
NR Tahj Washington, USC- 205
NR Jordan Whittington – 229

There has been some confirmed ties to this group, as well, with Khan and Tomlin going to The Georgia and Michigan pro days, Azzanni going to Texas and reported interest in Whittington. None of these players are sure things, but they call could still be contributors as rookies, at least in a minor role. Rosemy-Jacksaint and Flournoy figure to be special teamers at the next level, as well, which is usually a requirement for Day Three rookies.


The Steelers need someone to play now. They need someone that can play outside and someone that can play inside. They also want someone that can be a big part of the passing offense right away. Even in a very deep wide receiver class, it’s going to be hard to find those things later on.

It sure seems like whether it’s a trade up or back, their pick at No. 51, or a trade up or back into the later part of the round, the combination of need and value seems to align closely there.