After a thin 2020 season at tight end, the Steelers add a big name free agent tight end and the team looks for the second year players to step up in that position. I will be going over each tight end rostered, then predict the tight end depth chart.
Vance McDonald or "Vanimal" is a 6'4 beast when healthy. McDonald has given Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers a strong base at tight end since 2017 when the Steelers acquired him from the 49ers. In his three years with Pittsburgh, McDonald has put up 102 catches for 1071 yards and 8 touchdowns while playing in 39 games. McDonald has battled injuries since 2014and has never played a full 16 game season. McDonald is looking at a #2 tight end role this year due to the free agent signing of Eric Ebron, will that help McDonald stay healthy and produce for the team or will that just make him not contribute at all? Pittsburgh loves two tight end sets on the goal line so he will be the main blocking tight end on run plays and during red zone plays, depending if second year player Zach Gentry makes the roster.
Zach Gentry is coming off a rookie year where he wasn't involved. In 4 games, Gentry caught one pass for 4 yards and a touchdown. Gentry is 6'8, so if he makes the 53 man roster he will be the blocking TE and possibly a red zone target for Roethlisberger who loves his big targets. In his two years at Michigan, he caught 49 passes for 817 yards and 4 touchdowns, his lack of touches infer he is more of a blocking tight end than a receiving tight end. Gentry needs to step up this year when given opportunities in order to stay with Pittsburgh in the future.
The Steelers brought in a big name free agent in Eric Ebron to be the starting tight end. Ebron played 11 games with the Colts last year and recorded 31 receptions for 375 yards and touchdowns. Eric is a tight end but plays like a receiver because of his speed and athleticism, hence his 7.2 yards per catch average. Ebron is set for a big role in 2020 and will need to be a safety blanket for Roethlisberger and a red zone target in order to succeed in this offense. Ben loves his tight ends and always looks for them first if there isn't a prior set target for a play.
Rader has no stats in the NFL. In college he played 42 games, caught 41 passes for 601 yards and 4 touchdowns. Rader did play pretty good in the preseason but ended up being cut, later to be brought back by Pittsburgh and put on the practice squad. Not much is know about Rader and with little highlights its hard to assess his play. Rader has potential but will need to work extremely hard to make the roster in 2020.
The South Carolina Gamecock lands with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Kyle Markway has been signed to replace the injured Dax Raymond. In 3 years, Markway recorded 37 catches for 459 yards and 3 touchdowns. Markway is just a camp body and won't make the team. He is a blocking tight end and not a pass threat, Kevin Rader and Zach Gentry fill those rolls already on the team.
2020 TE Depth Chart Prediction
TE1- Eric Ebron
TE2- Vance McDonald
TE3- Zach Gentry
TE- Kevin Rader
Let me know in the comments what team and position you want me to breakdown next!