The calendar has now flipped over to July and that means the Pittsburgh Steelers annual training camp will be getting underway in Latrobe later this month. As usual, we have several series planned to get you ready for this year’s training camp and mine will center around preview profiles of 50 players over the course of the next 25 days. Most of these profiles will be on players who were under contract with the team in 2016.
Up thirty-ninth in this series is a 2017 preview profile of tight end Xavier Grimble.
Intro: Grimble made the Steelers 53-man roster out of training camp last season with Ladarius Green stuffed away on PUP. The former undrafted free agent out of USC dressed for 13 total regular season games and the three he missed were because of a quadriceps injury. He registered 11 receptions for 118 yards and two touchdowns in 2016. Most of his offensive usage came in the first half of the season.
Current Strengths: Grimble has the athletic ability to stretch the field down the seam via post routes. He can also run away from linebackers and safeties on out routes. He has nice size and build for a flex tight end. Uses his big body well at times to shield ball from defender. Can take hard hits after the catch and extend the play for extra yardage.
Current Weaknesses: Far from being a complete blocker and not reliable enough in that area and especially on the end of the line. Tendency to slip off blocks and take bad angles without head up. Some wasted movement in routes allows coverage recovery. Questionable hands and especially over the middle with drops on tape. Not much of a special teams asset.
2017 Outlook: With Green now gone, Grimble has a good shot at making the 53-man roster a second consecutive season as a flex option. If his blocking can improve and he can confidently be moved around on offense, his snaps might increase some in 2017. A 20 reception 2017 season is certainly possible for Grimble in 2017 if he makes the team. He will be asked to play limited special teams if that happens.
2017 Base Salary: $540,000
2017 Salary Cap Charge: $540,000
2017 Health Status: No known ailments exiting offseason program
2016 Health Status: Three games missed last season due to quadriceps injury
2016 Regular Season Snaps Played: 197 of 1,083
2016 Stat That Matters: 10.7 yards per reception