The Pittsburgh Steelers have several needs to fill this offseason. Here’s why Pro Football Focus has them going with an obvious pick in the second round.
The NFL free agency period hasn’t even begun yet, but it’s never too early to start predicting which direction the Steelers may go early in the NFL Draft this April. Over the past few weeks, we have seen numerous players from multiple positions mocked to Pittsburgh in the second round, but the latest mock from Pro Football Focus goes with an obvious choice.
With the 49th overall pick, Michael Renner of PFF has the Steelers going with Washington tight end, Hunter Bryant. You can view the full two-round mock draft here:
PFF 2020 NFL Two-Round Mock Draft
What TE do the Steelers take with the 49th pick? https://t.co/cZPxjXy5Q3
— PFF PIT Steelers (@PFF_Steelers) February 16, 2020
Not only has tight end been one of the most mocked positions to the Steelers this offseason, but Hunter Bryant has been perhaps the most mocked player to Pittsburgh at pick 49. It’s not hard to see why.
The Steelers clearly need help on the offensive side of the ball, and their tight end situation is a bit of a mess. Vance McDonald is coming off a horrendous season (albeit without Ben Roethlisberger), and he was ranked 66th of 67 qualifying tight ends this season. In addition, he is due upwards of $14.2 million over the next two seasons (which takes him into his 30’s) and the Steelers may opt-out of his deal.
Outside of Vance, Nick Vannett is an undrafted free agent and it’s unclear whether or not he will return at this time. Third tight end, Zach Gentry, could hardly find the field as a rookie.
Pittsburgh got virtually no production out of the tight end position in 2019, and they will want to change that moving forward. At 6’2” and 239 pounds, Hunter Bryant isn’t the biggest tight end, but he was a fantastic receiver at Washington and is still a solid blocker on the move.
As a true junior this past season, Bryant caught 52 balls for 825 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also possesses an incredible 16.4 yards per reception over his collegiate career.
With the league’s 30th ranked offense in 2019, there is no doubt the Steelers will want to add skill players early who can help out Ben. Bryant is a player who can come in from day one and make a difference as a move tight end. He has drawn comparisons to New York’s Evan Engram – who possesses similar size and athletic traits.
Bryant may never be a true, dynamic tight end who can line up inside and run people over, but his college production and athletic traits are certainly good enough to warrant a second-round selection. He would be a player that would be hard for the Steelers to pass on at pick 49.