The Pittsburgh Steelers find that their 2017 season ended a bit prematurely, and are undergoing the exit meeting process a couple weeks sooner than they would have liked. Nevertheless, what must be done must be done, and we are now at the time of the year where we close the book on one season and look ahead to the next.
While we might not know all the details about what goes on between Head Coach Mike Tomlin and his players during these exit meetings, we do know how we would conduct those meetings if they were let up to us. So here are the Depot’s exit meetings for the Steelers’ roster following the 2016 season.
Player: Vance McDonald
Position: Tight End
Experience: 5 Years
Vance McDonald is, to me, one of the most intriguing players on the Steelers’ roster. For the record, I fully expect him to remain with the team, and Kevin Colbert’s comments regarding him and Joe Haden having a full offseason to work with the team.
At his fullest potential, there’s no doubt in my mind that McDonald can be a very good every-down starting tight end. Perhaps he even has the potential to be a Pro Bowler. He has the blocking skills of a complete tight end. Even on relatively limited opportunities, for example, Pro Football Focus gave him one of their highest marks at the position as a run blocker, and had positive marks in pass blocking and screen blocking.
Where Pro Bowl tight ends separate themselves these days, of course, is what they do with the ball in their hands. We know that McDonald is capable of making big catches, as well as making plays after the catch. He didn’t have a ton of opportunities to do that in 2018, but we did see that.
Now, I’m not about to suggest that he is going to make the Pro Bowl in 2018. Frankly, his injury history does not bode well for that. He has had a checkered past with injuries going back to college, and his first season in Pittsburgh was no different, suffering at least three or four separate injuries.
That said, I am not tempering my enthusiasm regarding what he could potentially bring to the offense. Yes, he is probably going to drop a couple more passes than you would care for, but they will be offset by his playmaking ability after a full offseason working with Ben Roethlisberger.
He said after the season was over that the two of them spent a lot of time during the postseason bye week connecting and working on their chemistry. He went on to have 10 catches for 112 yards in the loss.
The only question is really whether or not he will stay healthy, and given the number of injuries that he has had, it’s a very fair question to ask. I’m certainly not cutting him, however, and will be giving him a clean slate in 2018.