2019 Pre-Training Camp Roster Review: Tight End

The last time that we took a look back at the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster in review, it was weeks before the 2019 NFL Draft took place. It would be safe to say that quite a bit has changed since then, and the changes apply to almost every position on the roster, some major changes, some minor.

We are closing in on the opening of the Steelers’ several weeks of training camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, however, so it would be a good time to pause and take stock of where the team stands at each position since the build-up to the draft as we head into the most critical process of the offseason.

Position: Tight End

Total Positional Figure: 6

Additions: 2

Deletions: 0

Players Retained:

Vance McDonald: 2019 is set up to be a career year for McDonald, his seventh in the league and third with the Steelers. Hopefully, it will be the first training camp in Pittsburgh in which he’s healthy, which would always be an asset. He has the physical skills to put up Pro Bowl numbers as a pass-catcher and is a strong blocker as well. The concern with him is staying healthy.

Xavier Grimble: With Jesse James gone, Grimble is the only one in position right now to assume the number two tight end role. The former undrafted free agent is actually a solid blocker, as evidenced by the team using him in some specialized run packages as the only true tight end on the field. But can he handle an expanded role, including a few dozens targets in the passing game or more? That’s the question.

Christian Scotland-Williamson: The English rugby player is in his second offseason with the team as an International Pathway Player. Reports from OTAs suggest that he is looking more comfortable and more like a football player than a rugby player going through football drills, but there’s still a long way to go for him.

Kevin Rader: Signed as a future player in January, Rader is a player they saw in the preseason last year with the Packers. The 6’4”, 250-pounder is a local prospect who began his college career on the defensive side of the ball.

Players Added:

Zach Gentry: Gentry is another player who started his journey at another position, specifically at quarterback. The 6’8” fifth-round pick is raw, so it will have to be determined how quickly he can be a contributor in 2018, if at all.

Trevor Wood: listed as also a long snapper, Wood is the only tight end they signed as a college free agent after the draft. He himself confirmed that he spent more time at tight end during the spring. He will probably end up competing with Rader for a practice squad spot.

Players Lost: N/A

Notes and Camp Outlook: 

McDonald’s priority through training camp is to simply come out of the other end of it healthy—and, of course, to keep his health all the way through. After that, not much is settled. Grimble has a lot to prove to look like the number two tight end, because if he doesn’t, the Steelers will likely bring a veteran in. Gentry might not even be afforded a redshirt year if that happens unless he shows true potential.

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