Scouts Inc. on Steelers WRs

April, 12, 2010
4/12/10
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The Pittsburgh Steelers sent shockwaves throughout the AFC by trading former Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes to the New York Jets for a fifth-round pick.

Holmes was in Pittsburgh's doghouse after various off-the-field incidents, so much so that Steelers assisted another AFC contender.

So where does this leave Pittsburgh's receiver corps? The AFC North blog checked in with Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson for answers.

[+] EnlargeWallace/Ward
AP Photo/Gene PuskarWith Santonio Holmes out of the picture, Hines Ward (86) and Mike Wallace (17) look to be the top two receivers in Pittsburgh.
For starters, what did Pittsburgh's offense lose when it traded Holmes?

Williamson: They lose a potentially great player -- I don't know how else you can say it. He was especially great when Ben Roethlisberger was buying time and extending the play. Holmes would get you deep and Ben would find him often, and I think Roethlisberger trusted him. Holmes was effective off play-action, and I don't see a massive weakness with him. He had to share a lot of catches with [Hines] Ward, and earlier in his career Pittsburgh was a run-heavy team. So his numbers aren't quite where you think they would be. I don't know if that will ever be the case with the Jets, either, but that doesn't mean Holmes isn't incredibly effective.

Where do you feel Mike Wallace is in his development, and is he ready to be a starter in Year 2?

Williamson: I think Wallace is very ready to be a starter. He's only getting better and his ability to take the top off a defense [get deep] is tremendous. He's very fast and he plays very fast. Wallace is going to abuse single coverage, and I do like him as a starter.

Hines Ward isn't getting any younger. Can Pittsburgh still be successful with Ward, 34, as the team's No. 1 receiver?

Williamson: I worry more about Ward now. If I'm defending the Steelers last year, I'm more afraid of Holmes than Ward. The thing is Ward is still playing very well, but he's only going to get slower. He's never been the fastest guy around. So when coverage is rolled in his direction or Ward's facing the No. 1 corner on the opposing team, is he able to be as productive? I don't know that he is, so that worries me.

How do you evaluate the Steelers' depth at WR with backups Antwaan Randle El, Arnaz Battle and Limas Sweed?

Williamson: I think the Steelers really need to add a guy. They need a big body. They have Sweed. But I don't think they can trust him at all, although it would be great if he could live up to that second-round billing and plays like he did at Texas with more of an opportunity now. Randle El could be a competent slot guy. I wouldn't want him starting, and I think Battle might be a No. 4. He could play some and get his jersey dirty on special teams, but the Steelers don't want him out there an awful lot.

Any good options in the draft?

Williamson: They have a ton of picks (11), and they can't get that many guys on the roster. They're going to really be primed to move up once or twice in this draft. I don't think the Steelers can use a first-round pick on a receiver. But there are some receivers out there who are interesting. A guy like Eric Decker comes to mind from Minnesota in the second or third round. But it would also be nice for them to use a second- or third-round pick right now on a running back or a guard or a cornerback.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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