The Pittsburgh Steelers ended the 2019 season much as they did the 2018 season, by allowing their playoff fate slip out of their grasp. Slow starts and slow finishes permeated both campaigns, with strong runs in between. But while the results were the same missing the playoffs, the means were quite different.
Yet again, they find themselves undergoing the exit meeting process earlier than anticipated, which means so are we. But that they still managed to go 8-8 without Ben Roethlisberger, and with the general quality of play that they faced along the way, I suppose things could have been worse.
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 2018 season.
Player: Zach Gentry
Position: Tight End
Experience: 1 Years
What do we know about Zach Gentry through the first season of his professional career? The same thing, frankly, that we knew about him during rookie minicamp: he’s tall. The 6’8” 265-pound tight end came to the Steeler out of Michigan via the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, but he spent 12 of 16 games as a healthy scratch during his rookie season.
Originally recruited to join the Wolverines as a quarterback, Gentry only began working at tight end during his collegiate career. The Steelers understood when they drafted him that he would take some time to develop under even a best-case scenario.
While he was able to play a few dozen snaps offensively in the four games for which he did dress—typically due to injuries at the tight end position—one could clearly see his limitations on display, though that is not to dismiss the potential for development.
As a former quarterback and non-skill position player, it’s understandable that fleshing out the physical part of his game is something Gentry is still working on. James Daniel has been successful in instilling this in some players in the past, however, such as Xavier Grimble.
Daniel, the team’s tight end coach, didn’t talk around the issue after they drafted him, stating the fact pretty clearly that his blocking is well behind what he brings, or could bring, to the table as a pass catcher.
He did finish the season with one reception for all of four yards, but that reception came on third and three and converted on a possession down. He did have one nice touchdown from Mason Rudolph during postseason play, both mentally and physically. He will need a good offseason to establish a role for himself in the offense, however, and possibly even to simply make the 53-man roster if they do draft a tight end high. The last time the Steelers took a tight end earlier than the fifth round was in 2007, with Matt Spaeth.