NFL Draft

Study: What The Steelers Look For In Drafting Tight Ends

Back with our fifth “what the Pittsburgh Steelers look for” study of the 2020 NFL Draft class. For the first time ever, we have enough information to look at the tight end class. But just barely. Zach Gentry’s pick means the team has now taken six tight ends in the Mike Tomlin era, though two of them – Rob Blanchflower and Matt Spaeth – have incomplete data.

But we’ll work the best we can with the info we do have. It’s enough for me to feel comfortable in trying to come up with a baseline. Here are all the TEs picked since ’07 with our criteria below.

2019: Zach Gentry

Height: 6’8/1
Weight: 260
Length: 33 7/8
40 Time: 4.84
Bench: 14
Vert: 29.5
Broad: 9’2″
Short Shuttle: 4.53
Three Cone: 7.40

2015: Jesse James

Height: 6’7
Weight: 261
Length: 33
40 Time: 4.78
Bench: 26
Vert: 37.5
Broad: 10’1″
Short Shuttle: 4.50
Three Cone: 7.53

2014: Rob Blanchflower

Height: 6’4/1
Weight: 256
Length: 33 3/4
40 Time: N/A
Bench: N/A
Vert: N/A
Broad: N/A
Short Shuttle: N/A
Three Cone: N/A

2012: David Paulson

Height: 6’3/2
Weight: 246
Length: 32 3/4
40 Time: 4.93
Bench: 21
Vert: 33
Broad: 9’5″
Short Shuttle: 4.40
Three Cone: 7.18

2009: David Johnson

Height: 6’1/4
Weight: 260
Length: 33 3/4
40 Time: 4.73
Bench: 21
Vert: 32.5
Broad: 9’5″
Short Shuttle: 4.43
Three Cone: 7.28

2007: Matt Spaeth

Height: 6’7/1
Weight: 270
Length: N/A
40 Time: 4.83
Bench: N/A
Vert: N/A
Broad: N/A
Short Shuttle: N/A
Three Cone:  N/A

Our criteria for the position.

Height: 6’3+ (5 of 6)
Weight: 250 (5 of 6)
Length: 33+ (4 of 5)
40: Sub 4.85 (3 of 4)
Bench: 20+ (4 of 4)
Vert: 30+ (3 of 4)
Broad: 9’5″+ (3 of 4)
Short Shuttle: Sub 4.5 (3 of 4)
Three Cone: Sub 7.5 (3 of 4)

The results? Unfortunately, no one checked every single box. Three came very close, however. Here are the ones who missed in just one category.

One Box Away

Dalton Keene/Virginia Tech – Length (32 1/4)
Cole Kmet/Notre Dame – Bench (DNP)
CJ O’Grady/Arkansas – Bench (16)

Kmet is the biggest “name” on the list while Keene had a good Combine showing and is projected to go on Day Three. Projections are harder to pin down on O’Grady but he has off the field concerns Pittsburgh’s likely to shy away from.

Here are notable prospects and where they missed. If you’d like to know about a specific player not listed, let me know in the comments.

Brycen Hopkins/Purdue – Weight, Length
Albert Okwuegbunam/Missouri – Bench, Shuttles
Colby Parkinson/Stanford – Bench, Broad
Adam Trautman/Dayton – Length, Bench
Charlie Woerner/Georgia – Weight, Length

Given the limited data for the position, this study is probably a little more unreliable than others and more difficult in trying to find names who fit to a T. But basically, the team likes size, length, and don’t care much about athleticism at the position.

This is far from the most exciting results but it’s nice to finally have enough information to conduct this study for the position.

To Top