From now until the 2019 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.
#83 Zach Gentry/TE/6’8 265 lbs
- Gets to the second level quickly
- Large catch radius
- Tough physical blocker
- Works the seam well
- Finds the soft spot in the zone
- Capable of running many routes
- Contested catch winner
- High motor player
- Lacks awareness when pulling, misses blocks
- Lacks the strength you would expect for a tight end his size
- Struggles to hold his own when blocking
- Lower base struggles to anchor
- Looks clunky when he runs
- Poor athleticism – 4.90 40-yard dash time
- Inconsistent hands
- Limited YAC ability
- 2018: 32 receptions for 514 yards, 2 touchdowns
- Career: 49 receptions for 817 yards, 4 touchdowns
- Averaged 16.7 yards per reception
- 2017 Most Improved Offensive Player for Michigan
- 33 games played, 24 starts
- 2018 Third team All Big Ten selection by coaches
- 2017 Honorable mention All Big Ten selection
- 9 40-yard dash time at NFL Combine
- Recruited as a quarterback
Zach Gentry really did not have a good showing at the NFL Combine, running a 4.90 40-yard dash and putting up just 12 reps on the bench press. Though his NFL Combine performance was far from remarkable, there are still some intriguing aspects of Gentry’s game. One is his height as he stands in at 6’8 and 265 pounds. With his towering stature, the Michigan tight end was a important weapon in the team’s passing game.
Due to his length, Gentry is blessed with an incredible catch radius. He can really go up and get one over the middle of the field. On the play above, Gentry reaches up and snags a pass with a defender on his back. The Michigan tight end is a proven contested catch winner as his size makes him a big target capable of absorbing contact on the way to the ground.
One area of the field that really plays to the strengths of the Michigan tight end is the middle of the field. The tight end has the ability to stretch the field vertically. While he is not in the middle of the field on the play above, Gentry shows how he is able to use his footwork to open up the defender for an inside release. What this also shows is some potential ability for the tight end to be used as a red zone threat as well, especially when considering his size and contested catch abilities.
What is really puzzling about Gentry’s abilities is that he makes unbelievable catches at times but then drops the easy ones. His showing against Ohio State showed this vividly as the tight end dropped three very catchable balls that hit him in the numbers. He will have to work on improving his hands at the next level should he hope to eventually develop into a dangerous seam option, as he excels in that area.
When it comes to blocking, Gentry offers a mixed bag. Often times he looks out of place or confused, especially when pulling around the corner. Fortunately, he shows that when he gets it right, it is a sight to see as he is really a great downfield blocker. Not only does Gentry get to the second level quite easily but he also has a high motor and is capable of blocking way down field. Watch his incredible burst on the play above as he outruns Karan Higdon to the perimeter and ragdolls a Michigan State defender.
Earlier I mentioned that Gentry only managed 12 reps on the bench press, that is important to remember as the Michigan tight end really struggles with his strength. Whether it be upper or lower body, Gentry can be easily overpowered by bigger defensive lineman. Watch on the play above as he is driven into the ground by a defensive lineman, tackling his own running back in the process. The tight end will have to get a stronger lower base if he hopes to carve out a role for himself in the NFL.
Gentry likely projects as a backup tight end who can work the seams, though he obviously needs a lot of work before he will be allowed to see regular playing time. His lack of overall athleticism as a receiver and strength as a blocker will likely mean that Gentry will have to spent a season or more developing before he is able to be trusted with any meaningful reps.
Projection: Late Day Three
Games Watched: vs Florida, vs Michigan State, vs Rutgers