Two tight ends could be on the Steelers radar based on drafting trends

The first group of draft prospects weighed in at the NFL Combine. Here’s why tight end Cole Kmet could certainly be on the Steelers radar in the NFL Draft.

The NFL Combine kicks off live on Thursday at 4 PM Eastern Time with tight ends, wide receivers, and quarterbacks taking the field for the first workouts of 2020. Like every other NFL team, the Steelers will have their brass in attendance and will be keeping a close eye on participants who could potentially help their team.

It’s no secret that the Steelers could be eyeing a tight end in this year’s draft. Vance McDonald is due more than $14.2 million over the next two seasons and Pittsburgh could choose to opt-out of his contract with minimal dead money. Nick Vannett is an unrestricted free agent who Pittsburgh will likely look to resign, while 2018 fifth-round pick is nothing more than a depth option.

The Steelers haven’t had a great tight end since Heath Miller retired back in 2015, and they haven’t spent more than a third-round pick at the position since drafting Matt Spaeth back in 2007.

Pittsburgh is overdue to address the position, and based on the Combine weigh-in results, there are two players who will likely catch their eye:

According to Alex Kozora of Steelers Depot, the average tight end the Steelers have drafted under Mike Tomlin has been 6’5” and 259 pounds with 33 1/2” arms and 9 7/8” hands. Just two tight ends fall into this category in 2020: Note Dame’s Cole Kmet and Missouri’s Albert Okwuegbunam.

I’ve logged many hours into studying both of these players so far in the draft process. While they aren’t without their flaws, both tight ends possess tremendous upside because of their size advantage down the field and their ability to use their body to shield defenders.

Kmet is a physical player that is built alike Rob Gronkowski. Though he’s nowhere near the same prospect, he possesses an absolute prototype body for the position. Kmet is raw as a blocker and his technique is sloppy. However, he doesn’t lack physicality and is a bear to bring down after the catch. With solid testing numbers, he could wind up going as high as the end of the first round.

Okwuegbunam is a bigger project. The Missouri product has excellent size and length to go with plus athleticism and speed down the seam. However, outside of his touchdown totals (23), his college production was underwhelming and he didn’t play a large role in Missouri’s offense. Still, he could move up into the second round with solid testing, and his upside rivals any tight end in the draft class.

The Steelers aren’t guaranteed to live by the same standards they have in the past, but drafting trends typically don’t change all that much. There is a lot to like about both of these players, however, they are far from finished products.

Next: Former Pittsburgh Steeler offers his thoughts on the teams offensive line as free agency approaches

If Pittsburgh is to draft a tight end this year (and it’s starting to look that way), pay close attention to Cole Kmet and Albert Okwuegbunam. They are big tight ends who fit the mold of what the Steelers look for at the position.

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