The Pittsburgh Steelers are still in the early stages of the 2021 offseason, but with the 2021 NFL Draft over the attention now turns to the regular season. There are steps along the way, mandatory minicamp, Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and training camp, but the position battles which will take shape throughout the offseason are worth discussion.
Sure, things could change between now and the start of training camp. Injuries, acquisitions and players emerging can alter the outcome of these battles, but there will be several key battles taking place. In this series, myself and Dave Schofield will be giving our analysis and prediction for each training camp battle which will unfold at some point this offseason.
Today we take a look at a position/battle for the Steelers’ offense. This battle involves the tight ends, and hasn’t been discussed yet. This debate is which player will lock down the TE3 on the depth chart? For this exercise, we are making a pretty safe assumption, and that being Eric Ebron being TE1 and Pat Freiermuth being TE2.
With that being said, this debate will be structured just around the depth chart. Which tight end will round out the tight end depth chart? Kevin Rader? Zach Gentry? Dax Raymond?
Who wins the battle? Dave and I give our predictions below, but be sure to let us know what you think in the poll below, and be sure to explain your vote in the comment section!
Analysis: The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team who isn’t infatuated with the tight end position. Not that they don’t value it, but they certainly don’t consider it the focal point of the offense. There is no denying Ebron is the top tight end, and rookie Freiermuth is someone who is expected to contribute right away in some capacity. This makes you wonder if the Steelers will carry three tight ends on the roster, and if they do, will they even be active on game day?
Prediction: First, I do believe the Steelers will carry three tight ends, and the selection of that third tight end will come down to one facet of the game — special teams. Kevin Rader is a player who jumped off the screen when he was given an opportunity on special teams in 2020. That matters. Gentry and Raymond don’t provide anything which is so glaring it makes this a slam dunk decision. The only thing Gentry has which the others don’t is the fact he was a drafted player. That won’t be enough, and I think Rader is the TE3 when the dust settles and the team prepares for the 2021 regular season.
Analysis: As mentioned before, TE3 is not a guaranteed roster spot. Although the Steelers have carried three players at the position in general, there have been times where they have only had two active for game day. Whether this will be the case with new offensive coordinator Matt Canada remains to be seen. The only way the Steelers are going to use a third tight end on game day is if they actually use them. Otherwise, the active player spots are too coveted.
Prediction: It seems like I may have convinced Jeff to change his tune as he had Gentry as the other tight end on the roster when we did our 53-man prediction. I like the fact that Rader impressed so much on special teams in Week 17 last year that he was active for the Wild Card game. I don’t know if he brings much as a receiver, but if the Steelers are looking for someone to bring more to the team than just his offensive position then Rader is the guy. Also, I would not be shocked if the third tight end on the Steelers 53-man roster is not currently on the Steelers 90-man roster.
Which TE will be the TE3 on the Steelers depth chart for 2021?
This poll is closed