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From top to bottom the Steelers have never had tight end depth like this.
When someone mentions the Pittsburgh Steelers tight end position many think of the great Heath Miller, and his run of dominance from the mid-2000’s to the mid 2010’s. Outside of Miller, and perhaps a couple good years from Eric Green and Bennie Cunnngham, the tight end position has never really been a point of depth nor dominance for the Steelers. But all that could be different for the Steelers in 2021. Not only do they feature a former Pro Bowl receiving tight end, but a do-it-all rookie, and a pair of depth players that are dominating blockers. Today we will break down all four players and what could make this group a dangerous unit.
Eric Ebron joined the Steelers on a sweetheart deal back in 2020. He instantly became the top tight end target on the depth chart and put up arguably his second best statistical year of his career a year ago. While not the best blocking tight end in the world, Ebron is a matchup nightmare for defensive coordinators and plays the position like a really really big wide receiver. He’s a threat to score any time the offense is in the red zone, and has made a career of out jumping defenders on fade routes.
The addition of the other names on this list will also allow Ebron to play a touch less than he did in 2020. This is a good thing for the player as he played the most snaps of his career in a season a year ago. Capping his snaps will limit injuries and in turn lower Ebron’s drop percentage which ballooned after breaking his career snaps in a season mark.
Boy wonder, the Steelers second round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, has lit training camp on fire and is arguably the offense’s MVP of the offseason. The kid is catching everything and proving he can be a reliable blocker. It’s becoming obvious to see why Steelers tight end coach Alfredo Roberts was so fired up at the Penn State’s pro day just a few months ago.
If this kid can be as good as he has been at camp it’s possible the Steelers have found their next great tight end. The Steelers may have struck gold in Freiermuth, and he’s the reason why I’m so optimistic about the ceiling of this group.
The Goliath, Zach Gentry, has finally put it all together as an NFL player here in training camp. His blocking ability has been noticed by many attending training camp practices, and in a Mike Tomlin led team tight ends need to be able to drive defenders down field. That’s exactly what Gentry has done. When you factor in his tremendous size you have to imagine he will be a short yardage weapon as no defender is going to be able to out jump this mountain of a man.
Speaking of impact blocking, there might be no skill position player as equipped to make a big time block than Kevin Rader. It was apparent on Kalen Ballage’s second half touchdown in the Hall of Fame game when Rader drove a defender five yards before burying him into the turf. Not only that, but the Pittsburgh native was also a force on special teams back in 2020. Laying some crushing hits, it’s this part of his game which will keep Rader around on this roster.
But what do you think? Could this be the best tight end depth charity Pittsburgh Steelers history? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.