Will the Pittsburgh Steelers target a wide receiver in the NFL Draft?
With the NFL Draft Thursday, football writers across the country are making their final picks for the draft. There is so much uncertainty with this draft, the Steelers are no different. Will the team look to add depth to an already explosive offense?
Though the wide receiver group is hailed as the deepest in the NFL, the future of Martavis Bryant is up in the air with his recent season suspension. It is not clear whether Bryant will play in a Steelers uniform again. A wide out the Black & Gold could target on Day 2 of the draft is South Carolina’s Pharoh Cooper.
Like Tyler Boyd is to Pitt, Cooper was the go-to weapon for the Gamecocks. After spending his freshman season at cornerback, he moved over to receiver, instantly becoming the top threat in South Carolina’s attack. Adding Cooper to the offense helped the Gamecocks secure a bowl bid in 2014.
But in 2015, Cooper’s numbers were down due to injuries and inconsistency at the quarterback position. The 5’11 203 lb. wide out finished his career in Columbia with 138 catches, 2163 yards and 19 touchdowns. He added 513 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns, averaging 7.2 yards per rush.
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Steeler fans are familiar with the improvisation of Antonio Brown, who is always finding a way to get open. Cooper was that same skill set, changing his route direction based on the coverage of the defense. Blessed with a quick burst, he is able to do a lot of his damage on screens and in space.
Cooper will have to become more comfortable running sophisticated routes in the NFL. This is due to South Carolina limiting his exposure to difficult, throwing him more dump offs, screens and vertical routes. It may take a few years for Cooper to perfect his route running, but offensive coordinators will find a spot for this dynamic playmaker in their offense.
The Steelers have interviewed Cooper prior to the draft. If he falls in the draft, possibly round 3 or 4, the team may add him to an already dangerous group.