Good Monday to you Steelers fans.
Few players have done more to improve themselves than has Steelers’ tight end Zach Gentry. Drafted in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, Gentry was largely thought of as a project unworthy of being actually drafted. Well, that was my opinion anyway… Gentry was a 6’8″ former quarterback at the University of Michigan who transitioned to the tight end position. I just wasn’t a fan of this selection. There were other positions we could have addressed and there were certainly more ‘ready-to-play’ options as well. Gentry lacked strength. He lacked athleticism and let’s be honest – there were doubts about his abilities to block in general. But over time, Gentry put in work. He improved his strength and put in significant time to make himself a better blocker and more reliable pass catcher. By the time 2021 rolled around, he was a sure-fire number two tight end. At his already imposing height, Gentry added muscle and became one of the largest humans I’ve ever been near. I was fortunate enough to be on the field for warm-ups a couple of times in the last two seasons and Gentry was right in front of me. I’m not a small person, but I felt small next to him! Size isn’t everything and Gentry proved it by working his ass off to become a legitimate tight end. As of this weekend, it looks like Gentry will be back with the Steelers too which is a bit of a relief. I’ll discuss how it may alter their Draft preparation below but here’s one more thought, did you ever imagine that of the two Michigan players drafted in 2019 (Devin Bush being the other) that Gentry would be the one still in Pittsburgh?
We recorded episode 312 of the SCB Steelers Podcast presented by DEK Roofing Inc on Thursday night. We covered the changing interior offensive line, the impact of losing Terrell Edmunds plus the latest on the Draft and a whole lot more!
Tweet of the Day… John ain’t wrong.
75% of Steelers fans wanted Edmunds gone for the last 2 years. Couldn’t wait for him to move on. Now that he has and they’ve saw his contract with Philly, it’s, “Well, if he was gonna sign for THAT price!” You want him or don’t. You guys are too much to take sometimes.
— John (@steelirish33) March 26, 2023
An Altered Approach to the Draft?
The tight end class in this draft is really talented and really deep. It may not have the top end talent of some guys drafted in recent years, but from round one through round seven there is plenty of talent to be had. With Zach Gentry back, that gives the Steelers two strong tight ends with Pat Freiermuth your starter. I was fairly convinced the Steelers would take a tight end somewhere in this draft and while that seems less likely now, don’t be surprised. Connor Heyward is not a true tight end. He lacks the size and overall blocking skills required to be an in-line blocker. With Derek Watt a free agent, it’s likely Matt Canada will use Heyward as a more of a fullback/H-back type. We must also consider that Freiermuth has had some concussions in his young career too. Therefore, I think tight end is in play somewhere in this draft for the Steelers.
Tomlin on the Tackles
Yesterday at the Annual Owner’s meetings Mike Tomlin said he was “comfortable” with his two offensive tackles. He didn’t say “happy” because he finds that a dangerous word. The idea that he’s comfortable has many suggesting that offensive tackle is no longer a consideration in the early rounds of the draft. I disagree for one, specific reason. Tomlin has made no effort to hide the fact he wants an aggressive running game and Dan Moore and Chuks Okorafor do not provide that. Of the two. Moore is most likely to be replaced and I’m not for one second believing the Steelers are out on OTs in the first round. Until it happens, I won’t buy it.
Clearing Up Bud
Let’s be really clear about the possible return of Bud Dupree. If he signs with the Steelers then he knows he isn’t coming back to be a starter. T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith are your guys, period. Keep in mind too that typically backup OLBs are also relied on a lot for Special Teams duty and I’m not sure how much Dupree will provide there.
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