The Pittsburgh Steelers very well could be in the market for a tight end in the upcoming 2016 NFL Draft. With Heath Miller nearing the end of his career, Jesse James as the second year player with upside and Matt Spaeth in his final year with the team, there isn't much depth on the Steelers' roster at the position.
The Steelers likely won't be looking to address the tight end position in the early rounds, but if the right prospect is available, don't be shocked to see Pittsburgh take a run at a mid-round talent who fits their prototypical tight end. Which player might be poured into a similar mold of Heath Miller? How about Ohio State tight end Nick Vannett.
Height: 6-foot 6-inches
School: Ohio State University
Position: Tight End
If there were a player who could step onto a NFL field and contribute in some way, it would be Vannett. Not only did he come from Ohio State and play in huge games, he was a tremendous blocker for the Buckeyes and Urban Meyer.
So, how would Vannett fit into the Steeler's scheme? Well, he would be able to fill the role of blocking tight end, but fans shouldn't sleep on Vannett as a receiver. Vannett was extremely under utilized at Ohio State, and that was on display during the annual Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. Vannett showed some tremendous range and hands with three receptions for over 50 yards in limited time in the All-Star game.
If Vannett were to be a part of the Steelers organization, he would enter as the antithesis of Jesse James when he came out of Penn State. Nearly as tall as James, but James was known as a pass catcher who struggled to block. Vannett was used as a primary run and pass blocker, with minimal exposure to his ability to catch the football.
Take a look at this film breakdown of Vannett vs. Notre Dame in this year's Fiesta Bowl.
Not too many passes being thrown his way, but it doesn't mean he couldn't be a player who is able to make a difference at the NFL level.
According the CBSSports.com. Vannett is the 96th ranked player in the upcoming NFL Draft, and the 3rd ranked tight end among his peers, behind only Hunter Henry and Austin Hooper.
As you dive further into his scouting report, here are his strengths and weaknesses:
Good all-around prospect who essentially got lost amongst all the talent that Urban Myer collected in Columbus. You can line him up in-line, in the slot or make him an H-back.
Good run blocker, whether in space or in tight quarters. Has good feet and plays with leverage. While he's not overwhelming at the point of attack, he can stay in front of defenders and be very effective in blocking for his teammates.
Can be an asset in the passing game. Runs well and can create separation, and has displayed strong hands and focus to finish contested catches.
Not used all that much in the Ohio State passing game, so you really see a limited version of what he can do as a receiver. It may take him some time to acclimate to an NFL offense and the intricacies of the playbook.
Not much shake at the top of routes to create separation.
Heath Miller doesn't have much shake at the top of his routes, but has become a master at creating separation. Vannett is projected to be a mid-round selection, and if the Steelers are wise they would give him a hard look at the NFL Combine and at his Pro Day and see if he could be just another weapon to utilize as the 2016 season inches closer.