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  1. #11
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    I would have loved to see them draft Lil Jordan Humphrey and put 20 pounds on him.

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by steelerkeylargo View Post
    How about we trade Artie Burns for a guy like Jake Butt (and a late draft pick). The Broncos drafted Fant and have Jeff Heurman and Troy Fumagali on the roster too.
    They don't even have to throw in the draft pick

  3. #13

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    Buy Or Sell: Xavier Grimble Capable Of Sliding Into No. 2 Role

    By Matthew Marczi
    Posted on June 9, 2019

    The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.

    That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).

    The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.

    Topic Statement: Fourth-year tight end Xavier Grimble is up to the task of assuming the role of the number two at the position.

    Explanation: Grimble has been with the team since 2015, spending that year on the practice squad, and has served as the number three tight end since 2016. He has had a couple of periods in which he saw some playing time, and the coaches appear to be fans of him, but he is now potentially the number two tight end with Jesse James gone.


    I think to suggest otherwise would be overselling Jesse James, or at the very least who James was through most of his career. For one thing, Grimble has always been a more powerful blocker, and more trusted in-line, which is why the Steelers have for years run a running-game package in which he is the only true tight end on the field, paired either with a fullback or a tackle-eligible.

    While he has some consistency issues that can be improved, thatís nothing that wasnít true for James, of course. And as for his receiving ability, he has made some high-quality catches over the years, even if his opportunities have dwindled. Behind Vance McDonald, and in an offense driven by the wide receivers, itís really not a huge ask for the number two tight end, anyway.


    While this offense may be designed to be driven by the wide receivers, however, itís generally predicated upon having at least two above after players at the position, and currently, the Steelers are only aware of having one. Whether or not they have two is yet to be determined.

    In that regard, the number two tight end should be more important in the offense than it has been for a while. And it is now at the weakest that it has been for a while. Grimble is not exactly irreplaceableónot that James wasóand the team has already tried to find another tight end through waivers.

  4. #14

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    TE prospect Rader brings Heath Miller appreciation to Steelers


    Fans who follow the Steelers have probably seen the play by now.

    It was ranked the No. 6 play of 2016 by ESPN, and no doubt No. 1 by Youngstown State and Kevin Rader.

    He's the tight end who wrapped one arm around a linebacker to pin the winning touchdown pass to that linebacker's back with one second left of the Division 1 FCS national semifinals.

    When Rader, the linebacker, and the ball all went to the ground, Rader held on. Tightly.

    "I didn't let go until I was down in that pile for probably 30 seconds," said Rader, a tight end who's returned home to Pittsburgh to compete for a roster spot with the Steelers.

    "I knew there wasn't any time left," he said, "so I knew they were going to review it and I didn't want there to be any opportunity of a reversal. I nearly choked whoever was on the bottom of that pile with that ball."

    You might also have noticed Rader's number - 83 - the same number fifth-round pick Zach Gentry wore in college. Gentry was given the number when he arrived, but Ben Roethlisberger asked him to change out of respect to Heath Miller, the tight end who made the number famous in Pittsburgh.

    The difference between Gentry and Rader is that Rader chose the number at YSU because of Miller, his idol while growing up in nearby Pine-Richland.

    "My favorite player was Heath Miller," Rader said. "I wore 83 in college because of him. I actually wore 38 in high school on defense."

    The only active player to have worn 83 since Miller retired following the 2015 season was Cobi Hamilton for 11 games in 2016. But he could get away with it as a wide receiver called up off the practice squad.

    A tight end wearing Heath's number?

    Too soon.

    "In my opinion that number should be retired," Rader said. "I think he was the best tight end to play here. It's going to happen eventually."

    Rader played at Pine-Richland just before QB Phil Jurkovec and head coach Eric Kasperowicz came along to win WPIAL and PIAA championships, but Rader was still a first-team all-conference defensive end in 2013. That was a year after a growth spurt added 10 inches to Rader's 5-3 frame and turned him into a legitimate prospect.

    "I was a late bloomer," said the 6-4, 250-pounder. "But after I put on those 10 inches I was tall and skinny, played wide receiver and defensive end. I was 205 pounds, so I wasn't big enough to play the in-line tight end yet. My senior year I played a little bit of the wing tight end and got to move around more in the offense."

    The only D-1 college talking to Rader was West Virginia, but the Mountaineers gave his potential scholarship to someone else a week before signing day. So, Rader walked on at Youngstown State as a defensive end. Bo Pelini was hired as head coach the next year and moved Rader to tight end.

    In his first season, Rader started only two games, both when YSU opened in three-TE sets. In 2016, Rader started 13 of 16 games and caught 17 passes for 285 yards and two scores, including the eye-popping TD that moved YSU into the title game, where it lost to James Madison. Rader's other touchdown was a 35-yarder against Robert Morris to give him a then-personal best 62 yards in the game.

    Rader topped that total at Heinz Field against Pitt in the 2017 opener, when he caught six passes for 100 yards. Both totals turned out to be personal highs for Rader, who finished his career with 41 catches for 601 yards and four touchdowns - all in an offense that set a school rushing record in 2016 and nearly matched the total in 2017.

    Rader wasn't drafted in 2018, but signed with the Green Bay Packers after the draft. He played in three preseason games, didn't catch a pass, and was released on Sept. 1. He turned down the Cleveland Browns to sign with the Steelers last Jan. 9.

    "I went to Green Bay and they brought in Jimmy Graham and Marcedes Lewis, so in that room we had those two, Lance Kendricks, two guys from the practice squad the previous year, me and another rookie," Rader said. "There were three guys with at least eight years in the league, so the opportunity was very slim. And they're completely different than what Pittsburgh is. They're more spread out, not running the ball, one tight end base. When I got the opportunity to come here I was really excited because what I did in college was a lot of heavy run game, in line, played wherever they needed me in the run game. That was our go to - run the ball then pass the ball. And I feel that's what they do here in Pittsburgh."

    What Rader loved about playing defensive end - "you've got the C gap, you're kicking that guy's ass, and you go tackle the ball; more simple, more physical football" - evolved into more thinking at tight end. But he grew to appreciate all of the nuance.

    "My tight end coach in college, Coach (Joe) Ganz, came from Nebraska with Bo Pelini and he played quarterback at Nebraska," Rader said. "He kind of taught us the quarterback perspective of reading coverage and blitzes and all of that stuff. So that's how I was taught in college."

    This past spring, Rader was used frequently with the Steelers' second team and was cited by offensive captain Maurkice Pouncey as one of the sleepers to watch in training camp. The Steelers are looking for a third tight end after losing Jesse James and three players from last year's practice squad and injured reserve.

    "I feel confident in my play," Rader said. "Now it just comes down to getting an opportunity - and then you've got to do your job. If you don't do your job, the next guy's going to bump up. So when you get those opportunities, if it's blocking, pass-setting and route running, and you're reading coverage corrently - at tight end you've got a lot of stuff - so the more you get correct all the time, day after day after day, that's what's going to make the difference."

    At one of the final minicamp practices, Rader drew praise from Mike Tomlin for a downfield block inside the 5-yard line that resulted in a touchdown for wide receiver Tevin Jones after a long catch-and-run.

    "That's always been my play - always to the whistle," Rader said. "Just keep going till you hear it."

    And even then, hold on to the ball. Tightly.

  5. #15
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    I believe everything behind VM is wide open on this team. Camp is just over 30 days away n it will be there n the pre-season to settle TE 2 ,TE3 and perhaps a TE for the PS. I'm not sure if Scotland-Williamson gets a 2nd free year because of the international thing.

  6. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Iron City Inc. View Post
    I believe everything behind VM is wide open on this team. Camp is just over 30 days away n it will be there n the pre-season to settle TE 2 ,TE3 and perhaps a TE for the PS. I'm not sure if Scotland-Williamson gets a 2nd free year because of the international thing.

    I agree. I don't think Grimble is a legit #2.

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steel Maniac View Post
    Maybe panicked is the wrong word, but Gentry wasn’t going to be drafted. That’s what everyone has said.
    Who is everyone?

    Depot had Gentry as a potential Steeler before the draft.

    Didn’t you also say you liked his “speed” down the seam in another post?
    Last edited by Oh wow; 06-29-2019 at 09:07 AM.

  8. #18

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    Grimbleís fumble against the broncos still has a lot of us upset with him. I too was upset but heís going to get an opportunity to prove that was an aberration. Looking forward to seeing him step his game up. Hopefully.
    From the 2010-2019 season, (A 9 year period that the majority of Cowher's players & coaches had left) Mike Tomlin has only won 3 playoff games. And two of those wins were against back up Quarterbacks.
    Dolphin fans in the 90ís who wanted to hold on to Don Shula for what he did in the 70ís...

    Are the same as Steeler fans (of 2020 ) holding on to Tomlin for what he did in 2008.


  9. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steel Maniac View Post
    Grimble’s fumble against the broncos still has a lot of us upset with him. I too was upset but he’s going to get an opportunity to prove that was an aberration. Looking forward to seeing him step his game up. Hopefully.
    He won't. Expect to be underwhelmed. I will predict that by the end of the season Gentry has a bigger role in the offense than Grimble.

  10. #20

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    Heading into 2019, the Pittsburgh Steelers Tight End depth is just scary

    The Pittsburgh Steelers arenít just thin at the TE position, the cupboard is practically bare.

    By F. S. "Flip" Fisher
    Jul 9, 2019

    For many fans, the thinnest position heading into training camp for the Pittsburgh Steelers is at tight end. A perfect storm could be brewing because of the players who on the teamís depth chart. Starter Vance McDonald has been injury plagued throughout his career, Xavier Grimble has 22 receptions during his four-year career and one giant boneheaded play. Zach Gentry was selected in the fifth round despite a myriad of question marks that ranges from his athleticism to his dropping of passes. While the concerns about the three players listed above are valid, the other three tight ends on the roster make those concerns pale in comparison.

    Veteran locks.

    Veteran McDonald set career highs in targets, receptions, yards, and tied career highs in both games played and touchdowns. With the departure of Jesse James, could McDonald be inline for increased snaps over his 50 percent from 2018? That will depend on his level of health in 2019. In two seasons with the Steelers, the former Rice Owl has taken part in 25 of 32 possible games. For his career his numbers are even lower ó 73 of 96.

    Grimble has flashed ability in his three seasons with the Steelers but only has 22 receptions over that span. Playing 174 snaps in 2018 garnered only six receptions. The former USC Trojans saw the biggest catch of his career turn into one of the biggest nightmares of his career against the Denver Broncos. Pittsburgh caught the Broncos defense off guard and dumped a short pass off to Grimble who rumbled to the goal line only to be trucked by Broncos safety Will Parks. Fans point out the myriad of mistakes that the four-year vet made on the play (Carrying the ball in the wrong hand, not wrapping up the football with two hands and not avoiding contact.) and wonder about his football IQ if asked to play numerous snaps in 2019.

    Lock based upon draft position?

    Gentry had a rough combine with a 4.9 forty time, 12 reps on the bench press and a 7.4 3-cone drill. The former Michigan Wolverines had a productive last two seasons at hauling in 49 receptions for 817 yards and four touchdowns. The 6í8, 265-pound tight end pound tight end needs to make bigger waves than what number he wears to catch the coaching staffís attention.

    The contenders?

    The other three tight ends on the Steelers roster are two relative unknowns with limited college production and a former professional rugby player.

    2019 undrafted rookie free agent Trevor Wood joined the Steelers after the NFL Draft hoping to land a spot in the NFL. Wood was asked to play defense in the Wildcats bowl game which might not have bode well for his senior year at Arizona, so he transferred to Texas A&M after graduation which meant he did not have to sit a season. His college career was nondescript with 11 catches while taking part in 17 games. The official Steelers roster has him also listed as a long snapper, could this versatility lead to a roster spot?

    Kevin Rader has an offseason in the NFL as he spent the 2018 offseason with the Green Bay Packers. Unable to land a roster spot with the Packers or any other team, he spent the rest of the year out of the NFL. The 6í4, 240-pound tight end was signed early in January when the Steelers could expand their roster. The former Youngstown State product had limited production in college snaring 41 passes for 601 yards and four touchdowns. A 24.7 yards per reception his senior season is one reason that Rader is getting a second go around with an NFL team in 2019. The yards per reception is surprising with him running a 4.91 forty time at his pro day.

    Turning 26 later this month, Christian Scotland-Williamson is the senior citizen of this group of three players. Twenty-six is not only considered old for a player still trying to make an NFL roster for the first time but old for a player who is better known in rugby than any level of American football.

    Scotland-Williamson was awarded to the Steelers through the International Pathway Program which aims to provide international athletes a pathway into the NFL while not counting against the 90 man roster or 10 man practice squad. Pittsburgh had nothing to lose by keeping the towering 6í9 Worcester Warriors on the practice squad for the season. Fast forward to 2019 and it is reported that he has lost 36 pounds which should put him around the 240 range. Will the weight loss allow him more looks than he saw in last seasons preseason where he only caught one pass?

    With such limited and questionable depth at tight end, could the Steelers solicit a trade to boost a risky depth chart before training camp? Or does the team feel comfortable with the six players they have under contract? An injury to McDonald, ball security issues from Grimble, or Gentry struggling to make the transition to the NFL would open the door for Wood, Rader, or Scotland-Williamson to showcase their abilities. But can any of the three walk through that opening? This is a situation Steelers fans will hold their collective breaths during camp and preseason especially with the departure of James and AB and their productivity.


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