Anthony Miller has an uphill battle, but could the former second-round draft pick find a role on offense with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
I was a big Anthony Miller fan coming out of Memphis in the 2018 NFL Draft. Though he didn’t have elite size at the wide receiver position (5’11”, 201 pounds), he was electric on the field with outrageously good college production.
Over his final two seasons at Memphis, Miller topped 1,400 yards in both 2016 and 2017. He also racked up a thoroughly impressive 32 touchdowns during this span, via Sports Reference. His game film was just as impressive as the numbers that went along with it. He was a smooth route runner with quickness and agility after the catch.
This even caused some to compare him to players like Stefon Diggs and Antonio Brown. Obviously, his NFL career path would prove to be much different.
Miller suffered a Jones fracture in his right foot during the final game of his collegiate career. He has looked like a different player since then. He also had four separate shoulder injuries dating back to his freshman year in 2014 (in which he was forced to redshirt).
Despite all of this, Miller was a second-round pick by the Chicago Bears in the 2018 NFL Draft. By the end of his second season, he had combined for over 1,000 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns, according to ESPN. However, he would spend just one more year with the Bears being released.
Last year, Miller was signed by the Houston Texans, but suited up for just two games and couldn’t muster up any meaningful production before he was released. The Steelers later signed him to their practice squad, and he was active for just one game for Pittsburgh in 2021.
Could Miller have a significant role on the Steelers?
Anthony Miller fits the profile of the wide receiver-type the Pittsburgh Steelers typically like. Just like many of the great receivers the team has had over the years, Miller doesn’t possess elite size, but he does have the ability to create separation with his quickness and has wiggle after the catch.
However, finding a role on Pittsburgh’s offense is going to be remarkably difficult. Despite the fact that he was a former second-round draft choice with elite college production, Miller’s spot on the roster is far from guaranteed.
After JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, and Ray-Ray McCloud found other homes in free agency this offseason, it looked as if Miller was going to have a path to the roster — and perhaps even a significant role. However, the Steelers soon claimed Miles Boykin off waivers and doubled up on receivers in the 2022 NFL Draft with George Pickens and Calvin Austin III.
There are currently four receivers on Pittsburgh’s roster who are locks to make the team: Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, George Pickens, and Calvin Austin. Outside of these four, it’s possible that there could be two spots up for grabs.
Last year, the Steelers only kept five receivers on their roster, but they could elect to keep a sixth this year, considering their depth. If Miller wants any chance to carve out a role in Pittsburgh for the 2022 season, he will have to be noticeably better than Miles Boykin and return specialist Gunner Olszewski this summer.
At 27 years old, Miller is actually the oldest receiver on the roster, and if another injury pops up, his chances in Pittsburgh are likely through. However, he does have experience and the ability to play in the slot as well as on the outside, which could perhaps give him a competitive edge.
When it’s all said and done, I think the depth on the team is going to be just too much for Anthony Miller to overcome, and I predict that he goes back to being a player who is inactive on game day if he does make the team. This is going to be a tight wide receiver race to watch and I’ll be interesting to see who gets those final two spots on the roster in 2022.