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Steelers Aquire Tight End Vance McDonald from 49ers

The Steelers announced today that they have traded their 4th round choice in the 2018 NFL Draft to the San Francisco 49ers for tight end Vance McDonald and their 5th round selection in 2018.

McDonald, 27, was the second round selection of the 49ers in the 2013 NFL Draft. Prior to the 49ers cleaning house in the front office McDonald was signed to a three-year extension that would’ve kept him with the 49ers thru the 2021 season. New GM John Lynch actively tried to trade McDonald during the draft, but was able to reach a deal with anyone.

Drops and injuries have stopped him from reaching his full potential. According to Pro Football focus, his 15.8 percent drop rate over the last four years is the worst among NFL tight ends who have at least 75 catchable targets over that span. He also has missed 16 games including two stints on injured reserve in the last four years.

While injuries and dropped passes have overshadowed his career to date, his athletic ability can’t be denied. He pulled in two receptions of over 65-yards last season which were two of the top five longest receptions for a tight end last year. In college at Rice over three years he amassed over 1500 yards and 15 touchdown receptions.

When Heath Miller retired prior to last season the Steelers attempted to fill his spot with free agent Ladarius Green. That turned into a nightmare and Green was released in May when he couldn’t pass his physical. Jesse James has had an underwhelming training camp even though he was handed the starting position. The fact that he hasn’t been able to progress more has left them with a huge hole in an otherwise explosive offense.

With the addition of McDonald that means that either David Johnson or Xavier Grimble will be expendable. Johnson is primarily used a run blocker and could be replaced in short yards situations by swing tackle Chris Hubbard.

McDonald will wear #89.

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