Depot Stat Projection Project: 9.5 Receiving Touchdowns For Anybody

With the Pittsburgh Steelers on a break before heading to Latrobe for training camp, we’re going to take a look at our expectations for this upcoming season and offer some over/under statistics to weigh in on. The offense wasn’t overly prolific last year, but the defense did put up some big numbers.

That can change in 2023 now that the offense is beginning to mature around second-year quarterback Kenny Pickett, though, and if the Steelers can keep T.J. Watt healthy all year, that will only help everybody be more productive—perhaps especially the defensive backs. So each day we’ll project one stat line, whether for a player or a unit, and share our thoughts before asking you to weigh in on whether you think they will hit the over or the under.

It is your job to project whether or not the over or under will be hit. At the end of the series we will be tallying up the answers for each installment to create a collective pre-training camp snapshot of where you stand heading into the 2023 season.

Stat Line: 9.5 receiving touchdowns for anybody

Anybody on the Steelers, of course. And I’m guessing there’s going to be a lot of taking the under on this one, just because in the past there has been an expression of skepticism that Kenny Pickett is going to be throwing a ton of touchdowns this year.

After all, nobody had more than four receiving touchdowns in 2022, though everybody knew going in that was a transitional year, with all of the growing pains that come with it. Still, the expectation is for things to be significantly better this year.

But there have only been 16 seasons in team history with 10-plus receiving touchdowns, and four of them were by Antonio Brown.  Other than Hines Ward’s three, the only other receivers to do it somewhat recently are the one-off Jerricho Cotchery year and Mike Wallace. The latter is going all the way back to 2010 already.

In other words, it’s not that easy to catch 10 touchdowns in a season. JuJu Smith-Schuster got to nine, as did Chase Claypool. Most recently, Diontae Johnson had eight touchdowns in Ben Roethlisberger’s final season.

That wasn’t Roethlisberger’s best season, however. One can imagine that Pickett could play at least at that level. And he had a special relationship developing with George Pickens, who caught four of his seven touchdown passes on the season.

If he can get near 20 touchdown passes this year, there’s a reasonable chance Pickens catches about half of them or more. They’ve been working this offseason, Pickens trying to improve his route-running, which should afford him more opportunities, more targets, more run-after-the-catch scenarios.

Then there’s a guy like Pat Freiermuth. He had seven touchdowns as a rookie in 2021 with Roethlisberger. He started to build a connection with Pickett later in the season last year. He could become Pickett’s safety blanket and really get a volume of targets.

So what do you think? Taking these factors and others into consideration, are you taking the over or under 9.5 receiving touchdowns for anybody? Answer below and at the end of the series we’ll tally all your answers together to see where you stand before we get to training camp.

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