With free agency approaching for Steelers tight end Nick Vannett and a club option for 2020 being the contract status for Vance McDonald, the Steelers may find themselves looking to add another tight end through the NFL draft in April. Although there are several underclassmen who are interesting prospects, several senior tight ends will be taking the field in the 2020 Senior Bowl Saturday afternoon.
For any Steelers’ fans who may be tuning in to the game, perhaps keeping an eye on the production at the tight end position could help familiarize themselves with a player who may very well be in training camp in Latrobe this summer. Here are four tight ends playing in Saturday’s game who could be on the Steelers’ radar for the 2020 NFL draft. Each player’s stats from their senior year of college are listed as well as their current draft projection according to CBSsports.com.
Brycen Hopkins, Purdue
6’ 5” 245 lbs
61 rec, 830 yards, 7 touchdowns
CBS projection: 45th overall, 2nd TE
Like many tight ends coming out of college, Hopkins seems ready to make an impact at the NFL level in the passing game but not so much in the rushing attack. Unfortunately, his blocking ability is in question so he is believed to function better outside of the traditional tight end alignment. It will be interesting to see how Hopkins is utilized in formations in the Senior Bowl as he may be moved out into a slot position in order to play to his strengths.
Jared Pinkney, Vanderbilt
6’ 4” 260 lbs
20 rec, 233 yards, 2 touchdows
CBS projection: 63rd overall, 4th TE
Not regarded as a great route runner, Pinkney has shown some great flashes as a blocker. Although known for having good athleticism for a tight end, he wasn’t much of a vertical threat in college. Look to see at which areas of the field Pickney is targeted in Saturday’s game.
Harrison Bryant, Florida Atlantic
6’ 5” 240 lbs
65 rec, 1,004 yards, 7 touchdowns
CBS projection: 137th overall, 8th TE
Regarded by some as more of a wide receiver than a tight end, his abilities as a blocker are highly questionable. It may be more telling to watch Bryant’s success on rushing plays to see how ready he is for the NFL.
Adam Trautman, Dayton
6’ 6” 253 lbs
70 rec, 916 yards, 14 touchdowns
CBS projection: 152nd overall, 10th TE
Obviously, coming from an FCS school brings questions of Trautman’s competition he’s faced this season. The Senior Bowl may be a great test on how he stacks up against other future NFL-caliber players. Out of all the tight ends, he may have the best chance in seeing his draft stock rise as he could no longer be labeled a “sleeper pick.”