By Jake Baird
PITTSBURGH – The 2011 Pittsburgh Steelers entered the season with possibly the best five receivers that the team has ever had. This receiving corps is arguably the best since Lynn Swann and John Stallworth from the 1970s. If not considered the best, they have many years left to prove otherwise.
Obviously, the number one wide receiver is “Catch Me If You Can” Mike Wallace. This third year pro out of Ole Miss has literally sped right past our expectations. This dynamic playmaker could possibly be the fastest receiver in the league. He has proven to not only be a deep threat, but an outstanding route runner as well.
Second year wide receiver “Downtown” Antonio Brown has solidified the number two spot. What a breakout year this young man has had. Brown can shake and bake his way to the end zone on punt and kick returns, and he has become a legitimate receiving threat too. One slip up by the opposing team, and Brown will put six points on the board. His ability to run after the catch and go over the middle sets him apart from most receivers in the game today.
Due to their sticky hands, red zone capabilities and blazing speed, wide out Hines Ward and tight end Heath Miller are tied for my number three spot. There was no possible way to put one of these men before the other.
Let me explain exactly why. Every quarterback simply needs a go to guy.
Ben Roethlisberger has two go to guys. Miller alone has given the Steelers 193 career receiving first downs. Ward has accompanied the Steelers with 618 career receiving first downs.
Deciding who was in the number four slot was difficult. Due to being younger and hopefully having a brighter future, the number four slot goes to wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders. When healthy, Sanders has game changing ability that an NFL team looks for. Whether the ball is kicked to him or thrown to him he will keep the opposing defense on their toes. If Sanders can stay healthy, he is sure to leave the Steelers with one of the most threatening receiving corps for years to come.
My final spot goes to wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery. Cotchery has showed the ability to step in when his number is called. If not for being injury prone and competing with the likes of Wallace, Brown, Miller, Ward, and Sanders, Cotchery would be higher on the depth chart.
That being said, an opposing team should give their defense a good night’s rest when playing the Steelers. Once one of these playmakers gets their hands on the ball it’s off to the races. These six men have proved to keep opposing defenses honest. Week in and week out they prove to us all why the NFL is now a passing league.