Now that the 2020 offseason has begun, following a second consecutive season in which they failed to even reach the playoffs, 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: Down
Truth be told, I don’t think that the signing of Eric Ebron—which at least as of the time of this writing, on Thursday evening, has not been made official—does much to affect Zach Gentry for the 2020 season. If they did not sign somebody, they were going to draft somebody that would keep him in the number three role.
Then again, they could sign somebody and draft somebody. And then where would Gentry be? Possibly on the outside looking in. He wouldn’t be the first draft pick from the fifth round to go from 53-man roster to practice squad. Brian Allen did it a couple of years ago. Marcus Allen did it last year. Is Gentry next?
What is clear is that, for the 2020 season at least, Vance McDonald and Ebron are the team’s tight ends at the top of the depth chart, and the ones who will be getting the playing time. If last season is any indication, it may even be difficult for Gentry to get a helmet. He was a healthy scratch for 12 games in 2019, despite the fact that they never had more than three tight ends on the 53-man roster at any given time.
Still, while the circumstances of the Ebron signing may have his stock down, that doesn’t mean that he can’t be a better player in 2020 than he was a year ago. In fact, he ought to be a better player. Even with an expected stunted offseason this year, there should be plenty of ways for him to grow from year one to year two.
It’s hard to say whether or not that will be enough. He is supposed to have some receiving ability coming out of college, but his work in the blocking department leaves much to be desired, and McDonald and Ebron are already the choice receiving options, so his best chance to get on the field is in the event of injuries—which isn’t altogether unlikely with the pair ahead of him.