Tomlin: Zach Gentry’s Development Something Steelers ‘Pride Ourselves In’

Rookies Najee Harris and Pat Freiermuth have certainly been the headliners on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense through eight weeks based on their development and improvement week-to-week, but quietly, hidden in the shadows and sometimes overlooked has been the development of third-year tight end Zach Gentry.

Gentry, who has worked his way into arguably TE2 in Pittsburgh behind Freiermuth, has worked his way up the depth chart in the last three years, going from a guy that was a likely practice squad tight end at most, to one that is now seeing snaps as the in-line blocking tight end in 12 and 22 personnel, and is starting to get more work in the receiving game.

The Steelers undoubtedly took a chance on the former quarterback-turned-tight end out of Michigan in the 2019 draft, and that chance is starting to pay off, which is something the Steelers and head coach Mike Tomlin are taking pride in.

During his weekly Mike Tomlin Show presented by 84 Lumber, Tomlin was asked by host Bob Pompeani about Gentry’s development. In classic Tomlin fashion, he gave a detailed answer about the third-year tight end, praising him for his development.

“You know, his growth and development is something that we pride ourselves in to be quite honest with you,” Tomlin said, according to video via the Steelers’ YouTube page. “We met Zach at a Pro Day at the University of Michigan; we go to Michigan every year. But he was one of those guys that was probably like a B player. He had a big frame, he had a passion for football that was very evident. We took him in the later rounds and he’s developed, he’s probably put on 20-plus pounds of really functional weight. He’s a big body tight end; he excels at matching up against 4-3 d-ends. You know, the outside linebacker matchup and the tight end match up is a fair one. That’s at roughly 250 pounds, or so.

“Some of those 4-3 ends that are in the 280s to 290s, so it’s a difficult fight oftentimes for tight ends. And that’s why you see a lot of teams utilizing a third tackle as a tight end. So, that gives us an opportunity to match that size at the tight end position. And so he’s carved out a niche for himself, but he’s also working on other aspects of his game to add contributions to us as well.”

Coming out of Michigan, there were plenty of concerns about Gentry’s ability to block, and his overall athleticism and mobility for the position, considering he was still learning the position. Three years later, with added weight and strength and a better understanding of the position and what is asked of him, Gentry is thriving.

That’s a testament to the Steelers’ scouting staff, coaching staff, former tight ends coach James Daniels, and current tight ends coach Alfredo Roberts.

With Freiermuth looking like the next great Steelers’ tight end and Gentry developing into a useable No. 2 tight end in the mold of Matt Spaeth, the Steelers could have a terrific two-tight end set for years to come.

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