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Training Camp Notebook: Steelers Rookie Martavis Bryant Impressing in Red Zone

martavis bryant

Martavis Bryant and Justin Brown, Steelers

This is an interesting position battle that hasn’t gotten a ton of attention. Martavis Bryant has looked better lately, but Justin Brown has been getting first team time in the slot as well. Both are similarly sized, but Bryant is younger and more athletic.

Name Age Ht Wt 40 Vert Broad
Martavis Bryant 22 75 211 4.42 39 124
Justin Brown 23 75 209 4.6 30.5 117

The fact that Bryant hasn’t distanced himself from Brown (and Derek Moye, and Darrius Heyward-Bey) in training camp yet has got to be a concern. Despite their size, neither Brown nor Bryant was a dominant college receiver, and Bryant’s comps are rather disappointing. From the College Career Graphs App.

bryant

Where Bryant distinguishes himself is his red zone touchdown rate, which is very impressive. As impressive as that number is, however, he was used a lot less in the red zone than you’d expect. That could be poor play calling, or it could be that Brant wasn’t as good as expected, or it could just be a function of playing opposite Sammy Watkins. He’s reportedly looked great in red zone drills at Steelers’ camp.

Teammate Ike Taylor thinks Bryant could have a rookie season comparable to Mike Wallace’s.

Taylor went as far as to say that Bryant has a chance to make an impact similar to what former Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace did as a rookie in 2009. Wallace emerged as the Steelers’ No. 3 wide receiver that season and caught 39 passes for 756 yards and six touchdowns. 

A compliment from a teammate may not mean much, but it is interesting to note that Taylor actually predicted the Steelers would draft Bryant.

Pittsburgh’s starting wide receiver corps will likely feature Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, and Lance Moore. None possess great size, or project to be dominant in the red zone. Heath Miller possesses size and some red zone ability, but is also aging. Given his superior draft pedigree and athletic profile, I’d expect Bryant to earn a roster spot. I don’t agree with Ike Taylor though; I don’t think he has a big impact as a rookie. But big receivers with a clear path to a desirable role don’t grow on trees. Bryant is worth monitoring, and stashing in dynasty if you’ve got the bench space.

Andre Holmes, Raiders

Another big receiver to monitor is Andre Holmes. He’s performed well in Raiders camp, and according to this wire report,

for an Oakland team that doesn’t have a clear-cut No. 1 wideout Holmes is currently the closest thing to it.

A number one receiver on a bad team may not be exciting, but it can definitely be valuable. Davis Mattek has you covered with a full breakdown here. Yes, it’s a concern that Holmes is already 26 and has bounced around the league for a while. But on a horrible Raiders team last year, he was on a full-season pace of 43 catches and 700 yards. Not bad.

Ike Taylor, Steelers

Speaking of receivers and Ike Taylor, he’s the second-easiest cornerback to throw against, according to Pro Football Reference. Something to keep in mind this fantasy season, when he faces gonna-be-a-number-one receiver Torrey Smith twice, must-own rookie Kelvin Benjamin, and comically undervalued Marvin Jones, among others.

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