With each Big Board article this spring, the BTSC crew will be publishing a second article complementary to that respective portion of the board. This week, we are going over the tight end position and whether or not the Steelers will want to draft one in April.
If you have thoughts as to whether or not the Steelers should draft a tight end this year, let us know in the comment section below. Let’s see what our resident draft analysts have to say.
Ryland B.: At first glance, the Steelers really do not need a tight end. Starter Pat Freiermiuth is a borderline Pro Bowler and Zach Gentry is a solid TE2 who’s a good teammate and probably the best blocker the Steelers have at the position. Although he’s a free agent, all signs point to him wanting to be back in Pittsburgh this year. And Connor Heyward, despite being third on the depth chart, has been about as good of a playmaker as we could’ve hoped for a seventh rounder at a third-string position.
So, if the Steelers re-sign Gentry and don’t bring in any new tight ends this offseason, the position group still looks pretty strong.
But what if they don’t?
As much as my gut reaction is to say that the Steelers should ignore tight end for much bigger needs in the draft, this year’s strong class at the position has me thinking otherwise.
The Steelers’ two second round picks and even their third-rounder are prime spots for selecting a very good tight end who falls due to the deep class and positional value. Imagine Pittsburgh landing Darnell Washington with their mid second-rounder. He’d improve the blocking in two tight end sets and add another dynamic receiving option alongside Freiermuth. A top-tier TE2 would greatly improve Pittsburgh’s common run-heavy looks and eliminate the need for the team to add another wide receiver this offseason.
As most of these articles go, a lot simply depends on how the draft falls. But maybe don’t rule out the tight position as an option just yet.
Noah_E: To put it simply, no they should not. Pat Freiermuth had a promising rookie year and then backed it up with over 700 yards on 11.6 yards per reception. Backups Zach Gentry and Connor Heyward had just over 450 yards combined. Now the trio had just three touchdowns this season, but the passing attack as a whole was less than ideal this year. Gentry is not under contract for next year, but it would surprise me if he were to sign somewhere else. If he goes somewhere else I think the conversation becomes much more relevant, but even then I don’t think it would be worth it. Some depth at edge or in the trenches would be more valuable for this team.
John O.: Unless something changes, the Steelers are presently looking at: (1) Gentry as a free agent, (2) Heyward as an undersized TE/fullback, (3) Watt as a free agent, and (4) not much else other than Muth when looking at the TE and fullback roles. I list fullback because if Watt isn’t retained, Heyward will likely split his time at TE/fullback. Hence, you are best have Friermuth and half of Heyward at TE. Again, Heyward is undersized anyway, and the Steelers ran the ball a lot during the second half of the season using two TEs. They really want a blocking TE – so if they lose Gentry they must find one somewhere. The main options are the draft, or the lower price free agent market. The latter might yield results; it can also yield older guys that get hurt.
This year’s TE class has some depth. It also has some bigger TEs that aren’t just pass catchers. I’ll presume the Steelers aren’t looking for a TE in the first three rounds of the draft. Any TE will be a round 4 or likely round 7 pick. There are still some decent names that may be available at that level. Davis Allen from Clemson, Cameron Latu from Alabama, Brevyn Spann-Ford from Minnesota, Cade Stover from OSU, and Brenton Strange from Penn St., all have some bulk to them and some blocking skills. Spann-Ford is listed at 270 pounds so he may be a Gentry-type although likely not as good. Stover could be a decent later round option or Strange. So yes, I would say the Steelers should draft a TE at this point unless they fill in at the position adequately before the draft.
Adam C.: The key question mark in this position group is Zach Gentry. I would like to see the Steelers re-sign him on a team friendly deal, as he has proved this season to be a solid TE2, good at blocking and solid in the pass game. However, TE2 contracts tend to be a bit varied. If one team loves what they see in him and think he fits their scheme, he may sign a much higher-paying deal elsewhere. Losing Gentry, I would still not draft a TE, as a veteran free-agent, proven blocking TE would be the best option in my opinion. Bringing some experience into the room to help the younger Heyward and Freiermuth would be valuable, and there isn’t that risk of a late round draft pick not adjusting to NFL level blocking. I think drafting a TE would be my last option to fill out this position group.
Do you think the Steelers should acquire a tight end this offseason? If so, when and how should they do it? Let us know your thoughts by voting on the poll and commenting down below.
How should the Steelers acquire a new tight end this season?
This poll is closed
Don’t sign/draft a tight end