The 2016 season is unfortunately over, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are now embarking upon their latest offseason journey, heading back to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, formerly known and still referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility of Heinz Field. While the postseason is now behind us, there is plenty left to discuss.
And there are plenty of questions left unanswered as well. The offseason is just really the beginning phase of the answer-seeking process, which is lasts all the way through the Super Bowl for teams fortunate enough to reach that far.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the offseason as they develop, and beyond, looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they try to navigate their way back to the Super Bowl, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season for the first time in more than half a decade.
Question: Will Alejandro Villanueva ever catch a pass over the course of his professional career?
This is just a fun question that I wanted to tackle right before we get into the thick of things with training camp looming. I think most people know by now that part of left tackle Alejandro Villanueva’s background included catching passes. So will he catch one in the NFL? They did try before.
When Villanueva was recruited to play for Army, he was brought in as a tight end prospect before he was moved to the defensive side of the ball. He spent some time on the offensive line as well before they moved him to wide receiver for his senior season. He caught 34 passes for 522 yards and five touchdowns that year.
When he tried out for teams early in his attempts to make it into the NFL, he generally was tried out as a tight end prospect, which should be no surprise given that he is 6’9”, and at the time was at a lighter weight than what he has bulked up to now to play on the offensive line.
During his first season with the Steelers on the 53-man roster, after he had already been thrust into the starting lineup due to injury, the team did throw him a pass. It was a gadget play on a fake field goal I believe against the Seahawks, with backup quarterback Landry Jones serving as the holder, which was already a tip-off.
Villanueva lined up to the left flank and Jones threw it to him across the field, but the pass was intercepted and the whole thing was a disaster. That doesn’t exactly leave a good taste in one’s mouth to try something like that again.
But he is, presumably, capable of catching passes. I believe they even attempted to throw a pass to him in the preseason that year as well. They didn’t toy around last year as he was settling into his new role. But perhaps later on in his career, maybe they will work in a wrinkle for him.