The 2015 NFL Draft is 24 hours away, and Kevin Colbert and his staff are hurriedly making their preparations. Steel Curtain Rising continues its look at the Steelers 2015 Draft Needs, focusing on tight ends.
Analyzing Steelers Depth at Tight End – The Starter
Heath! For ten years the chant has been a staple both at Heinz Field and across Steelers Nation every time number 83 makes a catch. Pittsburgh Steelers tight end might not get the recognition he deserves outside of Pittsburgh, but since his arrival in Pittsburgh, Heath Miller has been just as vital to the Steelers victories in Super Bowl XL and Super Bowl XLIII as have other offensive stalwarts like Hines Ward and Willie Parker.
- Now Heath Miller and Ben Roethlisberger are all that remain from the offenses of those two Super Bowl units.
At age 33 Heath Miller returns to the Steelers with one year left on his contract and remains one of the top tight ends in the game. Since performance 2014 in terms of catches and targets was almost identical to that of 2013, and when opposing offenses sought to double cover Le’Veon Bell out of the backfield, Roethlisberger connected with Miller to make them pay.
- If all of that is true, and it is, in the last two seasons Miller began to show some signs of age.
He fumbled twice in 2014 and had a few uncharacteristic drops in the Steelers playoff loss to the Ravens. Miller’s status as starter should remain safe in 2015 and he probably has a few more years left, but the he’s now closer to retirement than his rookie year.
Analyzing Steelers Depth at Tight End– the Back Ups
The Steelers decision to resign Matt Spaeth in 2013 drew a collective “What?” from Steelers Nation, but Spaeth’s play has since vindicated Kevin Colbert’s decision to bring him back to Pittsburgh.
- For argument’s sake, Steel Curtain Rising will repeat its point that Spaeth remains underutilized in the passing game.
With that said, Spaeth isn’t going to fool anyone should he try to do a Rob Gronkowski imitation. Spaeth’s main role with the Steelers is that of a blocker and he does it well. The Steelers recognize that, which is why they resigned him.
Behind Spaeth, the Steelers return a 2014 practice squad veteran and 2014 7th round draft pick Rob Branchflower who is untested, unknown and will need to fight for a roster spot in Latrobe this summer.
Priority Status of Tight End for Steelers in 2015 NFL Draft
The 2015 NFL Draft isn’t too early for the Steelers to be being seeking Heath Miller’s successor, and from a pure question of need at tight end, picking a top prospect in the second or third rounds would not be out of the question. Other needs might dictate the Steelers wait longer, but tight end is an aging position for the Steelers, and they need to build depth for the present and groom talent for the future.
Therefore tight end’s priority status for the Steelers in the 2015 NFL Draft must be considered Moderate-High.