Pittsburgh Steelers Best Wide Receiver Rookie Seasons

The Pittsburgh Steelers have an excellent history of drafting and developing wide receivers, and many wonder if that trend will continue with George Pickens this year.

From the beginning of the franchise’s existence, all the way to 2020, with the emergence of Chase Claypool, the Steelers have set the bar high for wide receivers.

So, what are some of the best wide receiver rookie seasons that the Pittsburgh Steelers have had? 

Jimmy Orr (1958)

It’s hard not to be impressed with the resume Jimmy Orr put together with the Steelers in his rookie campaign. Even though the Los Angeles Rams drafted the wideout, he never played a snap for them and was acquired by Pittsburgh. One thing that immediately stands out when considering his rookie numbers is his impressive yards per reception. The rookie wide receiver averaged 27.6 yards per catch and was often used as a deep threat for quarterback Bobby Layne. Orr brought in 33 receptions to lead the team in 1958, tallying 910 yards and seven touchdowns. He wouldn’t stick around in Pittsburgh, playing just three seasons for the Steelers before suiting up for his remaining ten with the Baltimore Colts. 

Chase Claypool (2020)

The most recent name that younger Steelers fans will remember is Chase Claypool, who was a touchdown machine in his first year dawning the black and yellow. Claypool hauled in nine touchdowns while totaling 62 catches and 873 receiving yards. When you think of Claypool, you think of a 6’4 big target with hands that can put opposing defensive backs to shame. During his rookie season, Claypool put together one of the most impressive modern-day performances, bringing in four touchdowns in a game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Claypool still figures to play a significant role in the Steelers offense in 2022, which saw him mirror his rookie performance in 2021. 

Louis Lipps (1984)

You can make a good argument that Louis Lipps had the best rookie campaign in the Steelers’ franchise history. It would be hard to disagree if someone wanted to make that claim. Lipps caught 45 balls in 1984 while compiling 860 yards and nine touchdowns, which was seventh in the league that season. Lipps brought home the NFL Rookie of the Year and was also an effective punt returner during his first go-around in the league. Suppose Lipps was given a better quarterback during his time with the Steelers, leaving many to wonder how much more he could have accomplished. Impressively, he did manage to record a 1000-yard season. 

Honorable Mention

JuJu Smith-Schuster (2017)

It was hard to leave JuJu Smith-Schuster off this list, considering he broke the Steelers rookie wide receiver record for receiving yards with 917. In addition, the talented wideout caught seven touchdowns, including a 97-yard score which was the longest touchdown of the 2017 season. 

Mike Wallace (2009)

One of the best deep threats in Steelers history, Mike Wallace made his presence felt in 2009, scoring six touchdowns and compiling 796 receiving yards. He didn’t bring much to the table besides burning defenders deep, but Wallace still deserves his spot in this conversation.