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Due diligence on Steelers wide receivers Scotty Miller and Van Jefferson

I need to work on my initial reaction when the Steelers acquire a player that I have never heard of before or I have some vague name recognition from a half watched game that played in the background while I did some chore. Perhaps you have the same type of reaction. It usually consists of these thoughts in rapid fire succession, the first being “Who?” and the second being “Why?” and then the third being “Is he even any good?”

I had never heard of Scotty Miller before the Steelers signed him. I was somewhat aware that there was a “Van Jefferson” in the league, but when I saw that the Steelers signed him, I was curious as to what his first name was. So, that should tell you how much I knew about him.

I keep forgetting that I am not a professional, full time scout. Just because I can’t recite a player’s measurables, stats, or that they are an actual member of an NFL team, that does not mean that they are not any good. I don’t even play fantasy football as I still have maintained a will to live, so I shouldn’t expect every signing by the team to be some huge star that I can’t help but be familiar with.

I watched highlights of Scotty Miller, and he is fast. That’s always good. He had usually beaten his man and was several yards behind the defense on deep go routes. Miller would need to slow down to wait on the ball as his QB – some hack named Tim Brody or something in Tampa Bay – underthrew him.

Miller’s tape showed him outrunning the defense over and over. With Russell Wilson being a great moon ball thrower of the football, hitting him in stride on that type of play would result in Chris Boswell trotting out to tack on extra points instead of trying for a long distance three. Miller isn’t a particularly big receiver, but he’s shifty and quick, but still seems willing to stick his nose in and block.

Van Jefferson is a bigger receiver. His plays didn’t jump out as much as Miller’s tape did, as speed doesn’t appear to be his game. He did beat press coverage and get open quickly off the line on the film I saw, so he could be a “move the chains” type guy if teams are trying to take away the tight end on third downs. That could also make him a viable red zone guy as his strengths are beating man coverage and using his larger frame to box out smaller defensive backs on curls and quick slants.

Ironically enough, both of their film clips had them both running jet sweeps for big gains. Oh, Canada. Van Jefferson’s rush was well blocked and designed, whereas Miller’s speed allowed him to just zip through the defense and leave people grasping at air.

I understand that neither of these guys are the big name big money wideouts fans have been clamoring for this offseason, and to be honest with you, I’m glad. Teams with high priced and high strung wide receivers always end up with more problems than results, and in recent years, the championship teams have all been more focused on having an unstoppable tight end with complimentary wide receivers. Both Miller and Jefferson are familiar with Arthur Smith and will not be upset when they are called to block more than catch, and that is important. George Pickens and Pat Freiermuth will be first and second on the call sheet for pass routes, but Jefferson sitting down on a route to get a first down or Miller catching a deep go ball on a Wilson play action moon ball will be exciting to see and crucial for success.

I’m not going to hate on either of these guys. They are part of the Steeler family, and I hope to see them both succeed. We can’t judge them on past lesser known wide receivers as of late. It’s a completely different situation with different quarterbacks and coordinators that could make all the difference. Let’s get to some real in-stadium play before the criticism starts flying from all the armchair experts.

Now, if someone could just tell me what Van Jefferson’s first name is…


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