The Pittsburgh Steelers recently completed their 2013 NFL Draft by adding eight players and then added another 15 undrafted free agents in the hours immediately following the draft. The Steelers addressed nearly every position on the field with the exception of kicker, punter and oddly enough, tight end.
While the selection of Jarvis Jones with the 17th overall pick filled an immediate need, I have to admit I was pulling for Tyler Eifert who was still on the board when the Steelers went on the clock. My reasoning was somewhat self-serving, I admit, but still it would have been an equal if not better selection for a couple of reasons.
It’s fairly well-known that Dick LeBeau doesn’t exactly warm to rookies. He rarely gets them on the field in year one and if they do, it’s in limited action. While Jones may be an exception, and I hope that he is, Eifert would have filled two immediate needs.
First, he could have immediately slotted in as the starter should Heath Miller take longer than expected with his knee injury. Recent discussions have estimated Miller could be out the first six weeks. Honestly, ask yourself this question. Would you rather have Eifert, David Paulson or Matt Spaeth starting at tight end?
The other reason Eifert would have been a great pick is that even when Miller comes back, he is a much better option in Todd Haley’s two tight end system than either Paulson or Spaeth. He would have immediately given Ben Roethlisberger an extra target along with Miller in the passing game.
Of course there is a third reason Eifert would have been a good pick and that would have been to keep him from the Bengals who drafted him a few spots later.
None of this is a knock on Jarvis Jones. I obviously want him to be an absolute beast and prove his worth as a number one pick, but that doesn’t mean I’m not extremely concerned with our tight end situation. As often as Haley used the formation with Miller and Paulson last year, why are we to think we won’t see a lot of it again? The problem is, does the tandem of Paulson and Spaeth put fear into you? I guarantee defensive coordinators aren’t lying awake at night.
Once Jones was the pick in the first round, the Steelers found themselves in a tough spot. They knew they had to upgrade at receiver and running back and the tight end position in the draft bottomed out in the early third round according to most projections.
Therefore, I don’t fault the Steelers for ignoring tight end in the draft because of the other needs, but for an offensive coordinator who relies so heavily on multiple tight end sets, I found it odd they didn’t draft one late or at least sign one after the draft.
With all of that said, maybe Markus Wheaton comes on like gang-busters and along with Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders, the three wide receiver sets I long for will become routine.
Hey, I can dream can’t I?
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