We all know the kind of talent that Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant possesses at this point. This is a kid who is probably the closest thing to Randy Moss I've seen since Moss first came into the league.
Tall, fast, can run like a deer, athletic as hell, can jump out of the guy and can really track the ball well in the air most of the time. He has had some concentration drops early on in his career, which is pretty much the one area in which he can't hold a candle to Moss...yet. At the same time, Bryant also has a highlight reel full of circus catches already.
Which is to say that it’s not that he can't make Moss-type catches; it’s just the consistency hasn't been there yet. But if he ever starts catching everything consistently...
Bryant is the kind of player who when he is on the field and locked in, there's no question about who the best player out there is. There have been times when I saw him make a play, I came away feeling like there wasn't anything this kid couldn't do on a football field if he put his mind to it. You could probably line him up as a running back and run the ball effectively with him. Hell, I wouldn't be all that surprised to learn he could throw the football a country mile too. Like I said, his talent has never been in question.
His decision-making off the field is another story.
To date, he has been conditionally reinstated for the suspension he served all of last season. Which of course means he could very easily make one more "mistake" and find himself banned from the league indefinitely, if not forever.
I will be honest and say that it’s hard to have any confidence in Bryant that he will able to stay clean and play this season without issue, considering how many guys have not been able to get right after this many suspensions.
If Bryant is sober now, there is a chance that he'll be even better than before. His focus could be improved, which may translate into a lot fewer drops. He could also be in better shape and even more explosive, which should scare just about every defensive back in the league. And listen, it’s easy to forget that the guy is still just 25 years old. His best season so far for receptions was 2015 when he had 50, and that was when he had only five starts. His best season total for touchdowns is eight in 2014.
He could absolutely destroy both of those numbers if he plays anything close to 16 games this year.
With Antonio Brown opposite him and Le'Veon Bell in the backfield (provided he and the Steelers come to an agreement on fair compensation) you may be thinking there won't be enough footballs to go around for Bryant to put up big numbers. But I think all the attention teams will show to Brown and Bell, at least early on, is going to allow Bryant to straight up feast on opposing defenses.
After that, it will basically be about picking your poison. Do you want to die slow or die fast? Because it’s worth remembering that Bryant had a 94-yard touchdown reception in 2014 and an 88-yard touchdown reception in 2015. I imagine he hasn't lost any of that speed yet.
*looks side to side to make sure nobody is looking*
*whispers* It may well be that a sober and in-shape Martavis Bryant really is the best player on that offense, bar none.
I'm just sayin’.
So yeah, it may turn out that Bryant slips up again and gets suspended. If he does, that will really be a shame and one of the biggest wastes of talent and ability that I have ever seen. But if he really has turned a corner and ends up playing this whole season, not only do I think he is going to put up video game numbers, he may well be the key to the Steelers getting another championship. With fingers crossed, I am saying that Bryant will be the Steelers' breakout player for 2017.
One thing about it: If he plays anywhere close to 16 games, this pick will be the most obvious thing ever. Just no way to know for sure if he will make it the whole season.