It will be interesting to see if the Pittsburgh Steelers ultimately draft a tight end this year and especially being as the future status of Ladarius Green still seems to be somewhat cloudy with the annual college selection process set to get underway Thursday in Philadelphia.
As for Green, who only played in six games last season for the Steelers due to ankle and concussion issues after signing a four-year, $20 million free agent contract in March of 2016, head coach Mike Tomlin didn’t provide any update on him during Thursday’s pre-draft press conference.
“We don’t have any update on any of the medical issues relative to the guys on our team and as we stated at other locations, I think the owners meeting being the last one, it won’t affect us in terms of our decision making,” Tomlin said when asked how Green’s coming along and if his recovery from the concussion he sustained late last season affects the team’s draft plans this year in any way whatsoever.
Ahead of the annual scouting combine in Indianapolis, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert indicated that he expects Green will be back next season but that he needs to pass physical before offseason workouts begin. Green also expects to be ready.
“I expect to come back,” Green reportedly told ESPN over a month ago.
Colbert opened Thursday’s press conference by talking about the depth of this year’s draft class at several positions and he said the tight end numbers are up some over recent years. He was later asked if he feels all-around tight ends coming out of college still exist and how the depth is related to that in this year’s draft class.
“There’s certainly well-rounded tight ends for sure and there’s smaller guys as Mike [Tomlin] referenced that are faster than the traditional tight end,” Colbert said. “When you see the spread offenses, a lot of times they’re taking the traditional tight end and putting him in the slot so they can block on the perimeter for some of their speed passing game. So, to say they can’t play in an attached formation I think would be selling their talents short, just that they haven’t.
“It’s the same as the quarterbacks. I mean just because they’re not in a traditional offense doesn’t mean that they can’t even though they might not be the prototypical 6-5. 255-pounders. They can certainly do some things and there’s smaller guys that play in the league. So, even though they don’t do it, it doesn’t mean that they can’t.”
While the Steelers probably evaluated several of the top tight ends in this year’s draft class during their annual pro day tours, only two late-round prospects were brought in for pre-draft visits as far as I can tell and they were Jason Croom and Scott Orndoff.
If the Steelers do wind up selecting a tight end in the first three or four rounds of this year’s draft, it could signal that the team is really concerned about the future of Green in Pittsburgh.