Steelers updated position outlook: Receiver

May, 20, 2014
May 20
11:00
AM ET
PITTSBURGH -- This is the first in a series that takes a post-free agency, post-draft look at the all of the positions with the exception of quarterback.

The Steelers' depth chart at the position still has Ben Roethlisberger atop of it followed by veteran Bruce Gradkowski and 2013 fourth-round pick Landry Jones. The Steelers signed Brendon Kay as an undrafted free agent but he is a long shot to unseat Jones as the No. 3 quarterback.

Our first look is at a position that has undergone its share of change since the last season.

Wide receiver

Who is new: Lance Moore, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Martavis Bryant. The Steelers gave serious thought to drafting Bryant in the third round. They got the 6-foot-4, 212-pound speedster in the fourth round.

Who is gone: Emmanuel Sanders, Jerricho Cotchery. Sanders signed with the Broncos, and the Steelers moved quickly to sign Moore after the unexpected loss of Cotchery to the Panthers.

Returning starter: Antonio Brown. All he did last season was catch 110 passes for a Steelers single-season record 1,499 yards. So much for Roethlisberger needing a primary target following the loss of Mike Wallace.

Most significant addition: Moore. A smaller but savvy receiver, Moore thrived while catching passes from Drew Brees in New Orleans. The Steelers need the ninth-year veteran to help offset the loss of Cotchery as the Steelers' No. 3 wide receiver.

Most significant loss: Cotchery. The consummate professional was one of only 11 players in the NFL to catch at least 10 touchdown passes in 2013. Roethlisberger has already publicly lamented the loss of Cotchery, which is just one measure of how valuable the latter was to the Steelers.

On outside looking in: Derek Moye. The former undrafted free agent and Pittsburgh-area product logged just 52 snaps last season and caught two passes for 20 yards. Moye will again have to fight his way onto the 53-man roster.

Hidden number: Brown is a do-it all player who has made the Pro Bowl as both a wide receiver and a punt returner. But only 15 of his 261 career receptions have resulted in touchdowns. That and the loss of Cotchery magnified the need for a potential redzone target like Bryant.

Outlook: No player is on the spot more than second-year man Markus Wheaton. The starting job opposite Brown is his for the taking, and the 2013 third-round draft pick could be an upgrade over Sanders if he takes advantage of his opportunity. The Steelers' faith in Wheaton allowed them to wait until the fourth round to take Bryant, and the Clemson product could be the ultimate wild card. Bryant has a tremendously high ceiling but there are concerns about his maturity. ESPN analyst Todd McShay has called Bryant a "boom or bust" prospect. If he turns out to be the former Roethlisberger will be one happy quarterback.

Scott Brown

ESPN Pittsburgh Steelers reporter

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