Steelers could find value at tight end
Jarvis Jones? Kenny Vaccaro? Cordarrelle Patterson? Tavon Austin?
No, no, no and no.
For all of their multiple needs — and they might have more than in any recent draft — the Steelers simply must take one player if he is available with the No. 17 pick in the NFL Draft, according to ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.
And that's Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert.
Eifert would almost be a luxury to a team that already has Heath Miller — who caught a team-high 71 passes last season — even though it is uncertain when Miller will return from a torn ACL. But to Kiper, he would be a must-take pick.
“If he's there for the Steelers, he helps that offense. He helps Big Ben (Roethlisberger) a lot,” Kiper said. “You need two tight ends in this league. Look at all the options that teams have with two tight ends, how viable and problematic for a defense having two very good tight ends is.”
For all the attention given Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o during and after the season, Eifert separated himself from the rest of the tight ends at the NFL Scouting Combine in February and likely is to be the first Fighting Irish player taken in the draft.
“I'm lucky to be coming in at a time when the type of tight end I am is being used quite a bit in the passing game,” Eifert said. “But (I'm) also a guy that can stay in the game on every down throughout the game and can block, create mismatches in the passing game. ... I strive to be a complete tight end.”
Zach Ertz (6-foot-6, 250) is the same size as Eifert and put up huge numbers at Stanford not only with Andrew Luck at quarterback but after him, too. Eifert and Ertz probably will go 1-2 among tight ends, though Ertz probably won't go until the second round.
“Both these kids are what today's tight ends are all about, an ability to move around and do different things,” NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said. “They're both big enough to line up on the line if you ask them to.”
He added, “I thought Eifert did a better job blocking this year than he did in past years and a little better job than Ertz.”
But, Ertz said in his defense, “At Stanford, we were a run-first offense. I took a lot of pride in my run blocking. As a receiver, that stuff kind of came more naturally.”
Another intriguing tight end is Gavin Escobar, who might have the best hands of the group. He is one of the few San Diego State players of recent vintage to pass up their senior season to turn pro. He made 51 catches as a sophomore and 42 more last season.
Tight ends who could go in the mid to late rounds yet offer value include Nick Casa, who was more of a blocker than a receiver at Colorado, and Kyle Jurszczyk, who was employed mostly as a receiver at Harvard only to unexpectedly show off his blocking skills at the Senior Bowl.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rossi: Wild Wednesday proves Steelers rule
- Australians rule punting competition for chance to play for Steelers
- Steelers submit application to play host to Super Bowl in 2023
- Steelers running back Bell is taking long-term look at his NFL career
- Steelers notebook: Best RB tandem in NFL?
- Steelers CB Allen working to regain form, make an impact
- Steelers notebook: Tomlin stresses players remain in top physical shape
- Offseason training helping to accelerate adjustment to NFL life
- Rossi: Moats looks to make a splash with Steelers