Lance Zierlein of NFL.com released version 2.0 of his first round mock draft for 2016 and just as he did in version 1.0, he has the Pittsburgh Steelers selecting Arkansas tight end Hunter Henry with the 25th overall selection.
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.
Being as veteran Steelers tight end Heath Miller announced Friday that he’s retiring from the NFL, it’s easy to start speculating that the Steelers will address that position early in the draft even though they drafted Jesse James last year in the fifth round. The jury, however, is still out on James and whether or not he can be an every-down all-around tight end like his predecessor Miller was during his long career.
Even if the Steelers believe that James can immediately fill Miller’s role, they could certainly use another all-around tight end on their roster as veteran Matt Spaeth has essentially been used as a blocker all of his career. Spaeth, by the way, is entering the final year of his contract.
Behind Spaeth, as far as players currently under contract for 2016 goes, sits Xavier Grimble, who while he did spend all of the 2015 season on the Steelers practice squad, is a former undrafted free agent. In other words, there’s no guarantee he’ll even make the final 53-man roster in 2016.
While the Steelers could look for another experienced tight end during free agency, I will be quite surprised if they go after Dwayne Allen as he’s likely to not only command a high price tag, but also have several suitors bidding for his services.
So, back to Henry. There’s still some question as to whether or not he’s a first-round talent even through he’s one of the best all-around tight ends in this year’s class. Let’s also not forget about Ohio State underclassman Nick Vannett, who will likely wind up being drafted in either the second or third round.
Needless to say, I’m sure the Steelers will be paying close attention to this year’s group of tight ends in Indianapolis at the upcoming scouting combine.