Comments over the tight end position for the Pittsburgh Steelers and whether or not it should have been addressed have been a hot-button issue around message boards over the course of the past week in the Steelers world. The only more contentious issues, it seems, have been long snappers, backup quarterbacks, and how hard you can hit a woman in the face if she spits on you.
Even Bob Labriola rolled up his sleeves and delved into the topic in a recent segment of Asked and Answered, in which he responded to one question about the position by saying that “if the Steelers judged the talent at the tight end position to be as poor as many fans do, they would have addressed it in the draft”.
Such a statement, however, does not preclude the Steelers from having wanted to draft a tight end. And multiple beat writers have indicated that the team had their eye on a couple of targets who were not available in the spot in which they would have liked to have taken them.
Jeremy Fowler wrote on ESPN wrote that “one potential late-round tight end target the Steelers missed out on was Clemson’s Jordan Leggett”, who was taken early in the fifth round. “The team had dinner with Leggett around the time of Clemson’ pro day”.
In a recent chat session, Gerry Dulac for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette addressed a question about the lack of tight ends taken in the draft by saying that “they were going to take one in the fourth round”, specifically naming Toledo’s Michael Roberts.
Dulac Tweeted about Roberts, in fact, as a potential Day-Two target for the Steelers last Friday. He ended up being drafted by the Lions with the 21st pick in the fourth round, not too far ahead of where Pittsburgh was ultimately slotted.
The Steelers did have a number of options laid out in front of them when they chose to draft quarterback Joshua Dobbs in the fourth round, but, as should go without saying, they obviously had the quarterback rated higher than any of the remaining available tight ends.
The first two picks of the fifth round were a pair of interesting tight ends, namely Jake Butt, whose stock took a hit due to a knee injury, and George Kittle, who I confess I was a fan of. Leggett went off the board four picks later, while Jeremy Sprinkle was another tight end gone in the first 10 selections of the round.
No, I think it’s clear that the Steelers did not believe that they needed a tight end. If they truly thought it was a requirement for their success, they would have made a more concerted effort to get one. That does not mean, however, that they felt that this year’s deep crop of prospects at the position could have been an asset to their roster. It may simple have been the case, as these above reports indicate, that they missed out on their potential targets.