Now that the 2019 season is over, with a team other than ours having been crowned champion and there being much work to do to return to that status, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past season, and with notice to anything that happens going forward.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we move forward.
Player: TE Zach Gentry
Stock Value: Even
Considering the fact that he spent most of the season as a healthy scratch, it’s hard to say much in the way of positive or negative about 2019 fifth-round pick Zach Gentry, the rather tall tight end out of Michigan who not so long ago was still, in fact, playing the quarterback position.
In actuality, Gentry only dressed for four games all season, though he did play in all four of those games, usually a fair amount (as in double-digit snaps), although in one of those games he only saw just one snap. His most extensive work game, as should be no surprise, in Week Four, the game that Vance McDonald missed due to injury, amassing 24 snaps.
He would be active again two weeks later due to injuries elsewhere on the roster, his third game dressing, but he would not see the field again for months, finally getting a helmet one last time in Week 15 against the Buffalo Bills. He was targeted once in that game, catching the pass for a whopping four yards, but the play converted a first down and was designed to be a short-yardage play.
The Steelers acquired Gentry with the fifth-round pick that they got back from the Oakland Raiders as part of the Antonio Brown trade, so his legacy and whatever he is able to do going forward does tie into that. Diontae Johnson is of course the other player they got in exchange for arguably the greatest receiver in team history.
Is there a bigger role for him in 2020? Currently, the tight end position is rather unsettled. Nick Vannett, acquired after Week Three, is an unrestricted free agent. Xavier Grimble is already gone, while it’s not absolutely out of the question that the team could consider parting with McDonald, the oft-injured starter, for salary cap needs. They likely would use at least part of those savings to add another tight end.
Because he is so new to the position, growth should be anticipated. He showed flashes as a receiving threat during his college career, but his blocking still has a lot of problems, and that will surely by his focus this offseason as he looks to make an impact.