In the fifth round the Steelers took another Jesse James. At least physically anyway.
Measuring in at the Combine at over 6’8” and 265 pounds we have another player who fits what they like in their number 2 tight ends. Big bodied guys who can be mismatches in the middle of the field.
By collegiate standards he has a solid year of production in 2018 with 32 receptions for 514 yards and 2 touchdowns. Prior to that he only had 17 receptions, 303 yards and 2 touchdowns. The overall 16.7 yards per reception is encouraging.
He was a player who showed up at Michigan to play quarterback but quickly was moved to TE as a redshirt freshman. He was a two year starter and won the Most Improved Offensive Player award in 2018.
Lance Zierlein from NFL.com has him labeled as a priority free agent and said, “With his size and background at Michigan, teams might be tempted to play him as a combination tight end with run-blocking duties, but he’s much better-suited in space than in the trenches. Gentry runs pretty well and moves fluidly as a route-runner, but his hands and focus can be maddening. He showed flashes of what he could do with a more capable quarterback last year, but his disappointing workouts and testing might have pushed back and out of the draft.”
Nick Farabaugh had him at number 234 on his Big Board and stated, “Gentry has genuine stone hands on him. He drops the ball way to much when he is wide open, which unfortunately is not often due to mundane route running skills and trouble getting off of press. He is a decent blocker, but Gentry doesn’t make much of an impact of the field, or at least as much as you’d like from him.”
From Daniel Valente’s profile on Gentry where he had him as a late day 3 pick, “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.”
We have documented here that the Steelers sent a large group to watch the players at Michigan’s pro day. While the primary target was Devin Bush it would seem Gentry caught their eye as well.
The tight end group for the Steelers is pretty barren with only Vance McDonald and Xavier Grimble so this was a position that had to be addressed. After players like Trevon Wesco and Foster Moreau went off the board in the fourth round it would seem the Steelers felt compelled to make a move here for a tight end.
Overall: This is a reach. From what it sounds like Gentry isn’t a great blocker or receiver. It sounds like tight ends coach James Daniel will have some molding to do and hope he can make Gentry a serviceable back up.