NFL Draft

Study: What The Steelers Look For In Drafting Tight Ends

Rolling through the final couple of “what the Pittsburgh Steelers look for” when it comes to draft thresholds. Flipping back to the offense with tight ends. The data set here is a little more incomplete because the team hasn’t drafted many at the position across the Mike Tomlin era.  Just six of them and we don’t have complete data for every single player.

But here are the six drafted below with our criteria listed after.

2019: Zach Gentry

Height: 6081
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: 6070
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: 6041
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: 6032
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: 6014
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: 6071
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

With the Steelers not selecting a tight end last season, our criteria remains the same. It is as follows:

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)

Of Combine-invited prospects, only one checked all those boxes – Ohio State’s Luke Farrell.

Players Height Weight Length 40 Bench Vert Broad SS
Luke Farrell/OSU 6054 251 33 4.82 22 36.5 9’10” 4.30


Farrell was a lightly used receiver in college, catching just nine passes his final two seasons. But he’s got prototypical size and is a solid blocker. Option for Pittsburgh on Day 3 – you can check out our scouting report on him here.

Also worth noting Iowa’s Shaun Beyer, one of the Combine’s largest snubs, also checked every box. Another Day 3 guy. I’m also guessing had Ole Miss’ Kenny Yeboah not gotten hurt during his Pro Day, he would’ve checked every box too. But we have him down as a DNP in the 40 and short shuttle.

Here are the Combine-invited tight ends who missed in just one category.

Hunter Long/Boston College: Bench (DNP)
Kyle Pitts/Florida: Weight (245)
Tony Poljan/Virginia: 40 (4.89)

Pitts of course will be long gone before the Steelers make their first pick. But Long and Poljan fit the type of tight end the Steelers’ draft. If Long lifted, there’s a good chance he would’ve hit the bench press mark and joined Farrell on this list.

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