In this third edition of Tight End Confidential we take a look at the blue collar Steelers and their 13th ranked tight end unit.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are a unique team because, unlike many teams, you don’t see many two and three tight end sets. They are also the most unique team on the list because all three of the tight ends they employ are different.
After four seasons with the San Diego Chargers and playing second fiddle to future hall of famer Antonio Gates, Ladarius Green joins the Steelers to finally be the man at tight end. I’m sure Green thought he was going to be the heir apparent to Gates, but Gates doesn’t seem like he wants to retire so Green has to find his shot elsewhere. He could not have landed in a better position than with the Steelers. It is not only an upgrade at the quarterback position for Green, but because they have a much more potent running game, he will see a far more vacant secondary as defenses have to focus on stopping the run. At 26 years old, Green’s best days are still ahead of him and anything less than 1000 yards, and 10 plus touchdowns, should be seen as a disappointment for him.
Matt Spaeth is your prototypical complementary tight end. He is an A-plus blocker and can give you something in the pass game if needed. Make no mistake, his value is going to be to help open holes for Le’Veon Bell, DeAngelo Williams and that potent rushing attack. He is a mammoth tight end at 6’7” almost 270 pounds, and he mauls defenders at the primary and secondary level.
Jesse James is the in-between option and could be the future for the Steelers. At 22 years old, the Penn State product will have a few years to master his craft and learn pass-receiving from Green, and run blocking from Spaeth. He has the ability to be a complete tight end at 6’7” 260 pounds. He will be the solidified number three guy, but interestingly enough, will probably be the number two receiving and blocking option. He really needs to continue to improve in both areas because he is an injury away from major snaps if either Green or Spaeth goes down.
Pittsburgh probably has the most settled depth chart of any unit on this list. There are no battles and everybody knows their role. Now it will be important for them to stay healthy and continue to improve at their crafts.