The moment Pittsburgh Steelers’ cornerback Ike Taylor mentioned the name Martavis Bryant, he had been thought of as a very potential draft pick by the Steelers. The team fulfilled that on Saturday when they drafted Bryant in the fourth round of the NFL Draft.
At 6’4″ plus Bryant provides the offense with the tall receiver they’ve lacked essentially since the days of Plaxico Burress.
Ironically, Bryant reminds me of Burress in several ways yet Bryant appears to be more athletic when you compare their numbers from their respective combine experiences.
Bryant recorded 12 touchdowns on just 61 receptions in 2013 and is a legitimate red zone threat. He is also very good on back shoulder fades and goes up and gets the ball quite well. From what I can gather, he is best used along and outside of the numbers where he can use his athleticism to his advantage. Ben Roethlisberger will love this part of his game.
This selection is not without serious concern though. Bryant is basically a ‘one-year wonder’ who lacked playing time behind DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins before finally being the Clemson Tigers’ number two receiver this year. He’s been suspended before for a throat-slashing gesture and he’s had academic issues as well.
He is, in a word, a “project.” But this is a project worth taking on for receivers’ coach Richard Mann who changed the culture among the receivers last year. With the immature Mike Wallace gone, Mann made it clear to both Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders that things were going to be different and they were.
If Bryant comes in and struggle to learn the offense that will be one thing, but short of that, he needs to be on the field in red zone situations at the very least. He is still very raw, runs poor routes and struggles to catch the ball cleanly at times but I think he was worth a shot in the fourth.
The upside for Bryant and the Steelers was too much to ignore.
Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @steeldad and follow the website at @SCBlitz. He can be heard weekly on Trib-Live Radio talking Steelers and is a blogger for ESPN 970 in Pittsburgh.