If there was any member of the Pittsburgh Steelers who benefited the most after the team released Ladarius Green, it could have been Xavier Grimble. The former USC tight end was a player not many expected to make the team in 2016, but due to Green’s injuries he was given a roster spot.
And he made the best of his opportunities.
In 2016, he only had 11 receptions for 118 yards on 21 targets, but two of those catches went for touchdowns. He averaged 10.7 yards a reception, and showed flashes of a player who could be a difference maker in the offense.
He has the size, 6-feet 4-inches 257-pounds, and athleticism to be a threat as both a blocker and a passer. While not likely to become the team’s top tight end, due to some issues with blocking, he and Jesse James could develop into a very good 1-2 punch from the position.
When Grimble was coming out of college there was a lot of talk about his hands, but mainly his size and strength. This was the report on him as he left USC a year early to enter the 2014 NFL Draft.
Big-framed, underpowered, underachieving tight end who did not live up to expectations at USC and made a curious decision to forgo his final season of eligibility despite producing a modest 25-271-2 (10.8) during an injury-affected 2013 campaign. Has size and enough athletic ability and hands to warrant developmental consideration.
Grimble, who should see an increased role for the Steelers in 2017, has been working hard this offseason to get ready for the upcoming regular season.
Check out his workout video from this offseason:
When the Steelers decided to part ways with Green, there had to be a conversation about Grimble before the decision was made. The Steelers chose not to draft a tight end in the 2017 NFL Draft, didn’t sign a free agent tight end, and barring them picking up another team’s send off when cuts take place, it looks as if Grimble could be seeing a lot more than 21 targets in 2017.
Question is, will he be ready? 2016 certainly proved he can make plays when given a chance.