With minicamp in the rearview mirror and training camp on the horizon, the Pittsburgh Steelers should already have all of the main components of their offseason roster in place, with all draft picks signed and no more free agents projected to be added until further evaluation.
It’s possible that a need should arise for further additions, either due to poor performance or injuries, once we reach training camp.
But for the time being, we should take a look at the depth chart that the front office has put together since the end of the 2013 season and see how well it stacks up in terms of quality and depth.
Due to the cumbersome lengths that offseason rosters can reach, we will be projecting a number or range of roster spots per position and focusing on that number of players per position, with other potential notables receiving mention below.
Position: Tight End
Projected Roster Spots: 3-4
Heath Miller: In 2012, Miller became a centerpiece of a new offensive regime, and he turned the added attention into a Pro Bowl-worthy season. Unfortunately, that season ended with his knee being torn up.
I don’t know that Miller at any point felt as though he was close to 100 percent last season, as he clearly labored through much of the year, even if he continued to perform admirably. Nevertheless, the Steelers are hoping that he turns in another performance like 2012, and with a healthier knee, he just might.
Matt Spaeth: The Steelers re-signed Matt Spaeth last offseason as soon as he was released by the Bears. Who better to replace Spaeth as the second tight end, after all, than Spaeth himself? Unfortunately, that plan went awry when a foot injury kept him out of the first three months of the season.
But he says that his foot feels better than it has in years, and he’s been working on his red zone skills. Having a true number two tight end for a full season this year should help the offense do the small things that lead to winning football.
David Paulson: The third-year former seventh-round pick will no doubt have a roster battle on his hands this year. He seems to be a bit of a favorite, but his blocking must improve before he’s even given an opportunity for his receiving ability to make a difference.
Michael Palmer: As with Paulson, Michael Palmer for the time being gets a nod as an incumbent. He was a late addition in training camp, and a bit of a jack of all trades, able to do a little bit of everything, but excel at none.
Others: The Steelers added two rookie tight ends this year in May, one a seventh-rounder and the other an undrafted free agent. The draftee, Rob Blanchflower, has promise as an all-around tight end in the long-term, though his immediate future might be the practice squad. And he might have to battle that other tight end, Eric Waters, for the honor. The Steelers signed him as a priority free agent with a draftable grade.