Jesse James doesn’t know what the future holds for him, but he’s happy about the present.
The Pittsburgh Steelers’ fifth round pick, a South Allegheny native, is grateful to be playing near his hometown and under the tutelage of a veteran like Heath Miller.
“There wasn’t a better place to go as a tight end in this year’s draft. To be able to come in and play under great tight ends here, it’s a great situation for me to be able to learn from them and hopefully take what I learn and display it on the field,” the tight end told Dan Scifo of The Associated Press.
In addition to Miller, James gets the opportunity to learn from nine-year veteran Matt Spaeth. That’s 20 years of combined experience, something few rookies have the luxury of learning from.
He left a year early from Penn State but considering where he’s landed, doesn’t have any regrets.
“I couldn’t be happier. When I made my decision, I knew that I was able to contribute at the next level. That’s something I’m trying to prove here every day,” he told Scifo.
While Miller and Spaeth are serving as the mentor’s, the rookie poses little threat to taking anyone’s job. He’ll battle 2014 seventh rounder Rob Blanchflower for the #3 TE role. It would be surprising to see the team keep four and as you’d expect, special teams value will play a large part in determining the winner. Michael Palmer, the number three tight end last year, saw most of his time on that unit, as one of the upmen on kick returns and a wing on punt coverage. In all, Palmer played 145 special team’s snaps compared to 29 on offense.
With his size and higher draft status, James is likely to have the initial edge entering Latrobe. But once camp starts, that status of course means little.