The Pittsburgh Steelers have one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has many toys, with some additions at receiver thanks to the end of a suspension and a high draft pick, as well as an intriguing young running back. Let’s take a look at Roethlisberger’s options in Pittsburgh in 2017:
Antonio Brown: He is not only on the top of this list, but he may be the biggest weapon in the NFL. What a toy Brown is for Roethlisberger. That’s why Pittsburgh locked him up to a long-term contract this offseason. The 2010 sixth-round pick is a video-game character on a true-life field. His numbers are staggering. His 106 receptions in 2016 were his fewest of the last four seasons. He is an amazing talent.
Le’Veon Bell: I don’t think there is a better second offensive weapon on any team. Bell would be a sure No. 1 weapon on nearly any other squad. The 25-year-old running back is a workhorse. Bell had 1,268 rushing yards and 75 catches in just 12 games last season. The Steelers love to get his hands on the ball — and why not? He has averaged at least 4.7 yards per carry in the past three seasons. Brown then Bell? Wow.
Martavis Bryant: The Steelers get a boost this season with the return of Bryant. He was suspended for all of the 2016 season for violations of the league’s substance-abuse policy. Bryant, 25, flashed in 2015 with 50 catches for 785 yards. He is a big play waiting to happen. His return is a major bonus for a stacked offense.
JuJu Smith-Schuster: Smith-Schuster is the newest toy. The Steelers nabbed him in the second round. The playmaker from USC has many fans around the NFL. He has a chance to be an instant contributor. The Steelers were looking for more behind Brown last year. They missed Bryant. Now they have Bryant and a potentially instant dynamic player in Smith-Schuster.
James Conner: Another rookie addition who should help right away. The local kid was taken in the third round. Conner was a great story because he beat cancer while at Pitt. But the Steelers did not draft him for sentiment. Bell can leave in free agency as soon as next year and Conner could be his replacement as the primary tailback. Still, the Steelers expect Conner to contribute right away. He is tough and he has good hands as a receiver out of the backfield.
Eli Rogers: Rogers is the slot guy in Pittsburgh and he can add a dimension to the offense. He may be the fourth receiving option, but he will have a role.
Sammy Coates: The 2015 third-round pick has flashed some potential but he has also struggled to show consistency. The addition of Smith-Schuster certainly puts pressure on Coates. There is only one ball to go around.
Jesse James: The Steelers’ one weak spot on offense is tight end. The Ladarius Green free-agency experiment didn’t work. James is more of a blocker and the Steelers can live with that kind of tight end element, but it’s not ideal.
Conclusion: Brown and Bell are in their prime and Bryant, Smith-Schuster and Conner are rising talents. Roethlisberger has plenty of reason to be excited about this offense for now and into the future. It’s one of the NFL’s finest offensive units.