Lance Zierlein of NFL.com released his first mock of the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft earlier this week and he has the Pittsburgh Steelers selecting Arkansas tight end Hunter Henry with the 25th overall pick.
Zierlein writes of the selection of Henry by the Steelers.
Kevin Colbert believes in targeting the best players available. I don’t see a quality cornerback available here, and Henry has rare blocking talent to go along with his ability as a pass catcher. Henry could step in tomorrow and take over a starting spot.
Zierlein isn’t the first national draft analyst to mock Henry to the Steelers in the first round as Daniel Jeremiah did the same in his first version. Henry is believed to be the top tight end in this year’s class and while it’s still early, there’s probably a decent chance he’ll still be on the board after the first 24 selections have been made.
The Steelers last drafted a tight end in the first round in 2005 when Heath Miller was chosen with the 30th overall pick. While Miller is still producing as the team’s starter, 2016 is likely to be his final year in the league as that’s when his current contract ends.
The Steelers still have veteran blocking tight end Matt Spaeth under contract for the 2016 season as well. However, depending on what happens in this year’s draft, Spaeth certainly can’t be considered a roster lock this far out. In last year’s draft, the Steelers selected tight end Jesse James out of Penn State in the fifth-round and he wound up playing 181 offensive snaps over the course of the regular season and the playoffs.
As for Henry, his pre-combine measurements are 6-5, 253-pounds. During his career at Arkansas, he registered 116 receptions for 1,661 yards and 9 touchdowns. His receptions and receiving yardage both increased in each of his three seasons as well. He was also the John Mackey Award winner as a junior and was a Consensus All-American for the 2015–2016 season.
After the 2015 season ended, Henry declared for the 2016 NFL Draft as an underclassman. He won’t turn 22 until December.
I doubt this will be the last time we’ll see Henry mocked to the Steelers over the course of the coming months and it will certainly be fun to watch him take part in the upcoming scouting combine as well.