2015 Steelers NFL Mock Draft: 7 Rounds v19.0

8 of 9

Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

As many of you already know, Pittsburgh’s brass re-signed tight end Matt Spaeth and fullback Will Johnson this past offseason. One would assume that they would be content with what they have at the position entering this fall, so consider me surprised that those in charge have already met with as many tight ends as they have over the last couple of months.

Spaeth and Johnson are only signed through 2016 (Spaeth) and 2015 (Johnson), so I give the Steelers’ front office credit that they are thinking at least somewhat ahead at those two positions. One player who could provide depth and a future contributor at both spots is Wes Saxton of South Alabama.

Unlike Spaeth, Michael Palmer, Jerrame Tuman, Sean McHugh or the cavalcade of other backups the Steelers have employed at tight end in recent seasons, Saxton is a “pass-catcher first, pass-catcher second and pass-catcher third.” The former Jaguar did little run blocking at the collegiate level, and his smaller frame (6’3″ 248 lbs.), inexperience, lack of technique and questions regarding strength will likely hurt him early in his professional career.

Saxton lined up very little “in-line,” and spent most of his time as an H-Back or “move” tight end. However, if a team is looking to add Saxton to their roster, then they should be looking to put him in familiar situations and try to highlight his skills as a receiver who can make plays in space as well as stretch the seams.

A productive receiver in South Alabama’s offense during his three-year stay (96 catches, 1,126 yards, 1 TD), Saxton was at his best in the slot, on the move and out of the backfield. He ran a variety of routes for the Jaguars, illustrated good straight-line speed and showed a knack for finding holes in zones.

At the professional level, I am definitely interested to see how Saxton handles press-coverage. In addition, I would like to see him get out of his breaks crisper and work for contested balls better too. His lack of productivity in the red zone is a question, and that is something which the Steelers must improve upon this fall.

Saxton’s upside and skill-set are unique, however, and I would be intrigued to see how offensive coordinator Todd Haley would use him in “12” personnel packages if Pittsburgh selected him. The H-Back would provide the Steelers with much needed insurance at two positions, and he could be on the team’s radars in the sixth or seventh round.

Next: Round 7