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Ranking the Steelers Options at Tight End

Steeler Nation

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Staff member
The Pittsburgh Steelers are currently very thin at the tight end position thanks to the retirement of Vance McDonald. Eric Ebron will be returning as the main pass catching tight end but there is still a glaring need for a run blocker. It isn’t some big secret Ebron does not excel as a run blocker. It was well documented that during training camp, head coach Mike Tomlin would routinely watch on as he hit the sled. Also, Ebron would regularly be tasked with trying to block Bud Dupree during camp. While he is willing as a blocker, Ebron still ranked 45th (49.5 grade) out of 46 tight ends in run blocking efficiency according to Pro Football Focus. If the Steelers are to succeed in reviving the worst rushing attack in the NFL, they will need to bring on someone who compliments Ebron’s shortcomings.



1. Sign a Veteran Free Agent

While investing in a high round draft pick in the position would be best for the future, this would be the best option for the Steelers in 2021. Relying on a rookie to be the main blocking tight end is a tall task, but lucky for the Steelers, the free agent class has plenty of reasonable options to help. My favorite option for the Steelers would be to dip their toe back into the Indianapolis Colts water and sign tight end Mo Alie-Cox, depending on the RFA terms. Alie-Cox’s role with the Colts consisted of run blocking 60% of the time, which should come as no surprise with his 6’6″ 260lb frame. His role grew this year as a pass catcher seeing nearly double the amount of targets as he did in the previous two years combined. He will turn 28 when the season starts but for a reasonable price he could provide stability at the position for the next few years. Other free agent options include Tyler Eifert, Tyler Kroft, Richard Rodgers, and Gerald Everett.



2. Draft a Tight End by the 3rd Round

The Steelers do not spend high draft capital on the position. The last time they drafted a tight end higher than the 5th round was in 2007 when they drafted Matt Spaeth in the 3rd round. Ever since the retirement of Heath Miller in 2016, the Steelers have had a revolving door at the position. Whether it was trading for tight ends Vance McDonald and Nick Vannett, or signing Ladarius Green and Ebron, the only draft pick that has played “well” was Jesse James. With Zach Gentry showing little promise coming into his 3rd season, the Steelers would be wise to draft one in the first three rounds. If they do, the Steelers would most likely end up with a player like Pat Freiermuth of Penn State, Tommy Tremble of Notre Dame, or Hunter Long of Boston College all who fit the bill of being capable run blockers as well as pass catchers. My suggestion would be if Freiermuth is there in the 2nd round, even if they have to trade up a few spots, the Steelers should do everything they can to draft a player who earned the nickname “Baby Gronk”.



3. No Change

If they fail to address the position by May, the Steelers will have failed this offseason. The likes of Gentry, Dax Raymond, Charles Jones, and Kevin Radar shouldn’t give anyone a warm fuzzy feeling. All of them have seen little action in the NFL and it is relatively unknown what they would bring to the Steelers offense. All of these players should be okay as a #3 tight end/special teamer, but I would not expect to see much of these players granted nobody gets injured this season. .00000000001% chance this scenario happens.



What tight end would you like to see play for Pittsburgh this year? Drop a comment below!

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It depends also on our offense. What is Canada planning to do? We rarely threw to the TE last year except for Ebron. Were almost just as well off to run the jumbo, and report the tackle as eligible.

IF we are indeed going to get one,, i prefer it to be via FA. Or else find a sleeper in the 5th round from Bethune- Cookman. or Vermont Tech.
 

slashsteel

Well-known member
I wouldn't say they have to draft a TE by the 3rd round stiffmeister. They might just be looking for a blocking TE which you can get later in the draft. Steelers have some interest in Kenny Yeboah a name to keep an eye on come round 3/4.
 

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SteelerSask

Well-known member
Here is the problem with Ebron. 1. He can't block. 2. If you bring in someone to block you are signaling you are there to run. If they had options in his place he would be an attractive 6m cap casualty.
 

Ike Kelly

P-38L Fan
I wouldn't say they have to draft a TE by the 3rd round stiffmeister. They might just be looking for a blocking TE which you can get later in the draft. Steelers have some interest in Kenny Yeboah a name to keep an eye on come round 3/4.
Yep, Yeboah and McKitty are promising developmental TEs to look at on day three.
 

slashsteel

Well-known member
Oh also Kyle Rudolph was cut he could be a cheap option. His TDs were down and missed four games but still managed a 11 yard average.
 

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F83

Well-known member
you keep Ebron to be a passing weapon, either promote Gentry and a guy like Rudulph to a 1-2 year deal with this we are set with 3 te's. 2 blockers, and with Rudolph kind of a poor Heath Miller dependable safety valve and good run blocker. Can easily run twin te sets with asking ebron to be in the slot and kyle to block
 

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