Former Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Heath Miller was (and still is) a legend in Pittsburgh, a starter on two Super Bowl-winning teams and a favorite target for every quarterback throughout his career. A first-round pick at tight end, Miller was also a bit of a rarity, as it isn’t a position that gets a lot of love in the first round of the draft. In a recent ranking by Jeff Kerr of CBSSports.com of the top tight ends drafted in the first round since 2000, Miller, who was taken 30th overall in the 2005 draft, placed fourth.
As the all-time leader among tight ends in receptions, yards and touchdowns in Steelers history, they surely have no regrets about taking Miller 30th overall. The University of Virginia product was ranked behind Greg Olsen, who was the Chicago Bears first-round pick in 2017, Vernon Davis (selected sixth overall in 2006) and Dallas Clark (24th overall in 2004). While those three may have had more individual success, Miller’s fit with Pittsburgh allowed him to be the only person on the list to win multiple Super Bowls. His 592 receptions and 6,569 yards along with 45 career touchdowns are nothing to sneeze at either.
Miller’s career earned him an induction into the Steelers Hall of Honor in 2022, and the two-time Pro Bowler has seemingly developed a nice relationship with Pat Freiermuth, whom the Steelers spent a second-round pick on in the 2021 NFL Draft.
With the 2023 NFL Draft starting next Thursday, the tight end class is a particular strength, although no one is a first-round guarantee. Names like Notre Dame’s Michael, Mayer, Georgia’s Darnell Washington, Utah’s Dalton Kincaid, and Oregon State’s Luke Musgrave have generated first-round buzz. The question for Pittsburgh is whether it might see if history can repeat itself by taking another tight end in the first.
While the team has other needs and is pretty set with Freiermuth, two tight-end sets have become a lot more common. The Steelers hosted Washington for a visit this week, and his blocking ability is something that could really appeal to the Steelers. Mike Tomlin said at the owners’ meetings in March that the team isn’t bashful about its intention of being a running football team. Adding a mauling blocker in Washington could be a good way to bolster the run game without directly addressing the O-line. Couple in the fact he’s dangerous as a receiver, and Washington and Freiermuth could be a nice two-headed monster at tight end.
Whatever the Steelers do, if they take someone in the first round who can give them the level of play that Miller did, they’ll be just fine.