You know and I know that when it comes to making trades, Pittsburgh Steelers’ General Manager Kevin Colbert hasn’t always been at the top of his game. Whether it’s been trading for kickers who suddenly lost their accuracy or whether it’s cornerbacks who just weren’t good enough, he’s had his struggles in this department. I think Colbert may have finally struck some gold with his trade today however.
The Steelers have agreed to send a fourth round draft pick to the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for tight end Vance McDonald and a fifth round selection. Both of the draft picks in the deal are for 2018.
This was a move that had to be done. The Steelers have known for some time that Jesse James just isn’t a number one tight end and that David Johnson is ‘block-first, catch second’ option. Xavier Grimble is limited in his receiving and even more so in his blocking. The addition of McDonald is an immediate upgrade.
In his first two seasons in the NFL, he caught just 10 balls but in his last two years McDonald has 54 receptions and seven touchdowns. More impressive is his 13.5 yards per catch average which is exactly what Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers need from a tight end threat.
In college at Rice University McDonald had 119 career receptions and 15 touchdowns.
If your one of those that’s disappointed that the Steelers gave up a fourth round pick I suggest you get over it. In recent drafts, Colbert has selected two quarterbacks who at best seem to be career backups and he’s drafted two defensive players (Shamarko Thomas and Alameda Ta’amu) who were busts from the fourth round position. Yes, Martavis Bryant was a fourth round pick too but the jury isn’t back on that one just yet.
If you’re also thinking this is a one-year ‘rental’ I wouldn’t go there just yet. Yes, he has some roster and workout bonuses that the Steelers will have counting against their cap but this is a year-to-year thing rather than being pro-rated. It will simply come down to how McDonald performs. Once the Steelers know that they can decide how to proceed from there.
In the short term though, this is what the Steelers needed and credit Colbert for pulling it off. McDonald is not a great in-line blocker but he’s excellent on the move and has improved his overall blocking since coming into the League. He becomes an immediate pass catching threat that the Steelers sorely lacked.
Photo courtesy: Mercury News