With JuJu Smith-Schuster hitting the free-agent market, the Steelers could turn to the NFL Draft to replace him, but they’ll have to find a steal.
The Pittsburgh Steelers face the prospect of letting wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster walk away as a free agent this year, leaving the team with a gap in their receiving corps.
To be fair, it wouldn’t be a huge one to fill. Smith-Schuster was part of a balanced three-man attack alongside Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool. With the other two set to remain, the team should find targeting a diamond-in-the-rough in the NFL Draft all the more palatable.
Who fits the bill as an exciting prospect who should be available late on? Steelers’ expert Austin Lloyd proposed Sage Surratt from Wake Forest as a late-round steal.
Sage Surratt checks all the boxes for the Steelers
If Pittsburgh is in the market for a wide receiver, they’re not going to be spending an early pick on the likes of Ja’Marr Chase out of LSU or Jaylen Waddle or DeVonta Smith out of Alabama. Even guys like USC’s Amon-Ra St. Brown and LSU’s Terrace Marshall Jr. are unlikely to be in their range.
Instead, the Steelers must identify someone with all the talent of a Smith-Schuster, Claypool or Johnson, further down the draft pool. They have a good track record figuring out what wide receivers have what it takes at this stage.
Surratt could be that guy. He has sure hands with a big body to challenge defenders. He’s not the fastest receiver out there (if he were, he’d be rated significantly higher), but Smith-Schuster was able to overcome concerns about his speed.
At Wake Forest, Surratt put up 1,001 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2019. He might have boosted his stock even more in 2020, but he opted out of the season because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Steelers can take advantage of his flying under the radar this draft season.