The Pittsburgh Steelers toyed with the thought of getting help at the tight end position this offseason. However, they didn’t bring in anyone via free agency, and went into the 2017 NFL Draft knowing the position of slot tight end would not be a necessity. In fact, it wasn’t addressed until the team signed several undrafted free agents.
It is now time to update the team’s depth chart at the tight end position, predict just who will make the team and what the stable of backs will look like as the team prepares for the 2017 NFL season.
Scott Orndoff (R)
The Steelers depth chart hasn’t hardly changed since 2016, the additions of Malleck and Orndoff being the exceptions. And, to be honest, the team seems to be extremely confident in the current group heading into the new season.
However, the question still lingers, are they putting too much hope into the long-term health of Ladarius Green? Or was 2016 an aberration for the productive-when-healthy tight end? Let’s predict who makes the roster first...
Similar to the running back breakdown, this position prediction seems pretty cut and dry. The team likes Jesse James and Ladarius Green as their primary tight end targets, and David Johnson and Xavier Grimble both showed they are more than capable at fulfilling their roles on the team last season.
With those four players the front runners to make the team, what are the chances an unknown player comes in and takes a roster spot? Slim to none.
The Steelers will most likely keep four tight ends, especially with Green’s injury history, and that would be Green, James, Grimble and Johnson. The only way one of these four would be without a spot is if they drafted a tight end, which they didn’t do. If the team decides to trim the group to three players, I would suspect Grimble would be the odd man out.
This is a gigantic ‘if’, but if Ladarius Green can stay healthy this team has a pretty solid tight end group on their hands. Jesse James has been gradually improving on a yearly basis, and, when healthy, Green was a difference maker. Throw in the fact David Johnson is their blocking tight end, and Grimble can fill in a variety of roles, the team’s tight end depth chart is set.
No, the Steelers don’t deploy an extremely talented offensive weapon like the New England Patriots do with Rob Gronkowski, but Green could be a very similar talent if he can stay on the field.
I know it seems as if this breakdown solely hinges on the health of Green, but it really does. Green’s concussion past, and injured ankle which landed him on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list to start the 2016 season, is worrisome. However, when in the lineup, he was a game changer who became very comfortable with Ben Roethlisberger in a very short period of time.
The tight end depth chart might not be filled with game changers, but it is is a very solid group of players.