The Steelers signed free agent wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey to a one-year contract. The Steelers are adding a guy with a ton of potential and 4.2-4.3 speed. Given a chance to revitalize and resurrect his career with a playoff team and a good quarterback, Heyward-Bey was non-existent in the second half of the season with the Indy Colts. The former seventh-overall pick from Maryland showed flashes with the Oakland Raiders, but his hands were never consistent enough to complement his speed. It didn’t help having multiple offensive coaches and playing on a bad team with no stability at quarterback. Heyward-Bey fell out of favor in Indianapolis last season, having appeared in only eight snaps per game in their final four games and ultimately replaced by undrafted free agent Da’Rick Rogers. He caught only 29 passes for 309 yards and a touchdown for the whole season.
Ironically, Heyward-Bey (DHB for short) was drafted in the first round of the 2009 draft by the Raiders along with new Steelers free safety Mike Mitchell, who was drafted in the second round. Both were considered to be reaches at that point of the draft by the late Al Davis. They are now re-united in Pittsburgh. DHB played in 11 games as rookie tallying 9 receptions for 124 yards and one touchdown. His best season came in 2011 when he played in 15 games amassing 975 yards and 4 touchdowns. For his 5-year career he has only 2,380 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. Following a poor 2012 season in which he managed a paltry 606 yards, Darrius Heyward-Bey was released by the Raiders and signed a one-year deal with the Indianapolis Colts.
After losing Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery in free agency, the Steelers needed to bring in a receiver to start opposite Antonio Brown or at least compete with second-year receiver Markus Wheaton. Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers have been targeting a big, tall receiver for the passing game. Enter Lance Moore. Moore is a great possession receiver and will stretch the field on occasion with decent speed, but doesn’t fit that mold at 5’9”. Enter Darrius Heyward-Bey. Although he possesses size and speed, he just doesn’t play like a ‘big’ receiver that requires leaping ability, elevation, and great hands. He isn’t considered to be the answer. Unless something crazy happens before the NFL Draft, I’m sure the Steelers are still looking for that young, tall receiver who can help Big Ben and the offense. DHB will be given the opportunity to compete for the 3rd or 4th receiver spot and possibly in the return game, even though he has never returned punts or kicks.
DHB is a wide receiver with great straight-line speed but has struggled with dropped balls, concentration, running routes, and getting open his entire NFL career. Although he is a burner and runs fast, he never established himself as a deep threat or been featured in the return game with Colts or Raiders. So if you’re thinking of him as a Mike Wallace replacement, you would be mistaken. There is some evidence from Colts SB Nation that describes DHB as a special team’s gunner and praised him for his character. We all know too well that the Steelers need to improve special teams. Maybe that is where he will find his niche because there is no guarantee that he will make the roster post training camp. The Pittsburgh Steelers feel that he is worth the risk given his immense athletic ability and potential and that his addition will bring on healthy competition among the young receivers.
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