Just two weeks ago the Pittsburgh Steelers signed their only outside unrestricted free agent, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Leonard Pope. Ironically, that was about the same time that the parade of draft eligible tight ends started making their way to the facility. Conventional wisdom says that the Steelers are in decent shape at the position, but are they.
Pope is an offensive coordinator Todd Haley disciple, following him from Arizona to Kansas City. He is big and talented, but truly has never lived up to his potential in the NFL, but he does understand the offense and could serve as veteran influence as a young tight end develops. In looking at the tight ends that the team brought in, they span the spectrum of positional value; early round, middle round and late round prospects.
The most highly touted one is Louisiana-Lafayette tight end Ladarius Green, the third ranked tight end (by some scouts) in the draft. Green is a tremendous athlete and one of the most gifted tight end receivers available. A big target (6-6, 236 pounds), he does a great job at utilizing his frame to shield defenders and make a living in traffic and on jump balls. More importantly, he is a hard worker and always working to improve his craft.
As a blocker, he is raw and not dominant. More of a positional shield blocker than man-up type; he can be overwhelmed by stronger defensive linemen inline. He even struggles downfield and is more of a stock-blocker type than dominator. In the end, he is a dynamic receiver who could be a mismatch in coverage and an average to below-average blocker. With the way the NFL is going, he is going to be a highly sought after commodity, and most likely a second round selection in the draft.
As we have done throughout this process, Steelers101 will continue to profile the pre-draft visitors. Green is the first tight end we have profiled out of the four who visited. Below is a list of visitors we will be covering today.
Louisiana-Lafayette tight end Ladarius Green
Missouri tight end Michael Egnew
Oregon tight end David Paulson
Cincinnati tight end Adrien Robinson
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