Steelers Draft Jesse James in 5th Round, Tight End from Penn State

The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Jesse James in the 5th round of the 2015 NFL Draft, and in taking the tight end from Penn State, they addressed one of the franchise’s overlooked need areas. James, who is from Pittsburgh, was elated to be picked by his hometown team

Standing at 6’7” and weighing 261 pounds, Jesse James ran the 40 in 4.83 seconds which is good for a man his size. James played for three years at Penn State, with his final season being his best as he grabbed 38 of 60 balls thrown to him and caught three touchdowns.’s Jamie Newberg described James as “This is a tight end with the perfect name for the way he plays – much like the legendary outlaw by the same name, this Nittany Lion is “one tough hombre” who received the nickname of ‘The Freak’.”

While James has measurable to make the mouth water, Neal Coolong of USA Today’s Steelers Wire described him as a “project.” Specifically Coolong took James to task for poor route running, an inability to cope with the speed of the game, and an unwillingness to block. Coolong did however praise James for the toughness he shows when catching in traffic.

Video Highlights of Jesse James Time at Penn State

Even 5th round tight end prospects get their own video collage on You Tube, which we’re happy to share here today:

Coolong offers his own film breakdown of James in other context. And while Coolong might be making salient points, its also clear that James gives the quarterback a large target to aim at, and he’s someone who knows how to catch.

How Jesse James Fits into the Steelers Plans

The first two slots on the Steelers depth charts are set – Heath Miller is the number 1 tight end and Matt Spaeth is the number two tight end. Rob Branchflower, 2014’s 7th round pick, also returns but will be forced to compete for the 3rd tight end spot with Jesse James.

The Steelers 2015 Draft Needs Matrix showed tight end as a position of Moderate High, meaning that Steelers needed immediate depth and/or a future starter there. It looks like James is has a shot at providing some depth, but projecting him as a starter is a long shot at this point.

  • But 5th round picks can and do blossom into starters, as William Gay proves.

Welcome to Steelers Nation Jesse James.

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