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Devil’s Advocate: Content With Tight End Group

You may recall for the past several offseasons that I ran an article series called The Optimist’s/Pessimist’s Take. I used it to explore different issues and topics the Pittsburgh Steelers were facing and took a positive or negative approach, examining each side in a separate article. This is essentially the same idea behind that, only condensed into one article for every topic.

In this version of the idea, I’ll be playing the Devil’s Advocate for both sides of the issue, looking at the best-case and worst-case scenarios in trying to find the range of likely outcomes of what is likely to happen for the Steelers relating to whatever topic the article is covering.

When it comes to the process of trying to construct a championship roster, the reality is that there are a ton of moving parts, and several ways to acquire said parts. There are a lot of things that can go right or wrong in not always predictable ways, so I think it’s helpful to try to look at issues by seeking out the boundaries of the likely positive or negative results.

Topic: Do the Steelers have the tight end group that they hoped that they would have exiting the draft and entering the season?

The tight end position experienced a major transition from Heath Miller and Matt Spaeth to Jesse James and Ladarius Green last season, and although statistically as receivers they actually outperformed their predecessors, the change certainly came with its drawbacks.

The Steelers said heading into the draft that they didn’t have an update on Green’s status, and really, it’s not so clear when they might know—or perhaps more accurately when we might know. My guess is that he hasn’t been practicing so far.

But we do have James, David Johnson, and Xavier Grimble practicing, and this is the group that the Steelers had for the majority of last season. This is a group that they were able to get by with, though not thrive. Each of them contributed just enough and failed just infrequently enough to regard them as something other than liabilities.

Green’s time in the lineup introduced a dynamic element to the position, and if he is healthy and ready to do, then the Steelers I suspect are content with where they are and can live with passing up the position during the draft.

Their failure to draft a tight end, however, does not indicate a lack of interest in doing do. Prior to Day Three of the draft, Art Rooney II was on Steelers Nation Radio, and when asked what he was hoping to accomplish at the back end of the draft, tight end was the first on a list of positions he mentioned.

The Steelers may have a group of tight ends that they can get by and live with, but it’s another matter entirely of whether or not they have the group that they were hoping to have. It seems a reasonable suggestion that they may have gambled in hoping that a quality tight end would fall to them in the fifth round, but the position went off the board quickly at the top of the round.

Which side do you lean closer toward?

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