PITTSBURGH -- With Heath Miller reportedly returning to form as a top pass-catcher for this season, the Pittsburgh Steelers needed another tight end to pick up some slack in the blocking department.
Enter former Massachusetts tight end Rob Blanchflower, a 6-foot-4, 256-pound bulldozer. The Steelers selected him in the seventh round Saturday afternoon during the NFL Draft.
"Rob is a guy that we had targeted,'' Steelers tight ends coach James Daniel said. "We brought him in for a visit and spent a lot of time getting to know him. (And) I think he has a chance to be helpful to us being a part of this football team. He has a high level of aggression, and he's a two-phased guy.
"You can get guys who are going to be either run-blockers or pass-receivers, and he's adept at both of them. And that's something that really interested us in him. He's played in a multiple-formation offense, so what he did really gave us a chance to look at him doing a lot of different things.''
In that regard, Blanchflower is similar to the type of tight end that Miller was when he was the Steelers first-round pick from Virginia a decade ago. There is another similarity as well. Both had sports hernias before they were drafted. That didn't appear to deter the Steelers from selecting Blanchflower, the same as they didn't mind picking Miller in the first round in 2005.
And Blanchflower reportedly has a nasty attitude, like the soft-spoken Miller, on the field.
"That usually attracts me to him,'' Daniel said.
Daniel added at the first two tight ends likely will get a lot of reps in the regular offense, but any others who dress will need to make an impact on special teams. And Blanchflower is in that category as well.
"That gives a guy a chance to make the football team,'' Daniel said. "[Blanchflower) hasn't done as much as some others, but I think he has special teams capabilities. He played with some muscle problems during the year that probably kept him from doing that.''
Blanchflower was unavailable for comment, but he'll be in town next weekend for rookie mini-camp like the other draft choices and undrafted free agents.