Steelers' Position Breakdown: The Tight Ends

Jim McMillen@pbblitzContributor IMay 15, 2009

PITTSBURGH - JANUARY 11:  Heath Miller #83 of the Pittsburgh Steelers takes the field against the San Diego Chargers during their AFC Divisional Playoff Game on January 11, 2009 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers won 35-24. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

So far we have covered the quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers, now it is time to turn our attention to the Steelers tight ends. One of the most underrated spots on the team, but also one of the most crucial in Bruce Arians offensive scheme.

Pittsburgh's TE's are not going to get a ton of media attention but they do have one who should. His name is Heath Miller and in our humble opinion here at Pittsburgh Blitz, the best TE in the league.

Steelers Position Breakdown of the Tight Ends

The Starters:

Heath Miller - Count tight end Heath Miller among the Steelers who want to play their entire NFL career in Pittsburgh. With Miller, though, his desire to finish what he started with the Steelers takes on more urgency as he approaches his final season under contract with the team that selected him in the first round of the 2005 draft.

"Obviously, I'd love to be a Steeler, and I'd love to spend my whole career here. But at the same time, I realize this is a business. You don't really know what's going to happen," Miller said following the Steelers' final OTA a few weeks ago.

Miller is a key cog in the offensive wheels of the Pittsburgh Steelers. His importance to the team is not measured by his statistics, but by what most fans don't see, his blocking and dependability. Miller does not miss blocking assignments nor does he drop passes. He is one of the most well-rounded players in the league at his position. Sure a few TE's might be better catchers and some may even be better blockers, but none bring both aspects to the table the way Miller does.

He needs to be the Steelers main priority this offseason. His contract is a must get done, as Miller is the one player the Steelers can not afford to lose.

Matt Spaeth - As a former John Mackey Award winner, Spaeth was full of promise when the Steelers selected him in the third round of the 2007 NFL draft. His first catch was a five yard touchdown, but he would go on to catch only four more passes for 34 yards and three touchdowns in his rookie season.

At 6'7'', 270 lbs Spaeth should be a much better blocker then he is. Though he was not drafted to block for the Steelers, he was selected to be a huge red-zone target in the passing game. His rookie year yielded some promise as he caught a handful of touchdowns, but Spaeth has not done much since.

If his blocking does not improve he may not remain on the roster past this season. A solid red zone target for the team, but that's about the extent of his value to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Sean McHugh - Originally drafted by the Tennessee Titans in 2004 in the seventh round (241st overall), he was cut at the end of training camp. McHugh would then sign with the Green Bay Packers and eventually the Detroit Lions before being signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers during the 2008 season.

McHugh is a valuable piece of the puzzle for the Steelers offense, but is more of an H-Back than a true TE. He can fill both the full back and tight end roles on offense.  McHugh is a former high school halfback and linebacker and a four year letterman at Penn State from 2000-2003.  McHugh has the player flexibility Mike Tomlin so very much desires and should contribute to the team in several ways this season, possibly passing Spaeth up on the depth chart as the No. 2 TE.

The Practice Dummies:

David Johnson - Selected by the Steelers in the seventh round of the 2009 NFL draft, Johnson lacks classic tight end height, yet he has enough size and speed to play the position. He is best in a system that consistently puts him in motion in the backfield or uses his skills at the H-back position. Johnson could end up as the Steelers third tight end if he shows well in camp this summer, but more than likely is bound to be on the practice squad for a season or two.

Hope you got a day job list:

Dezmond Sherrod - Signed as a rookie free agent by the Steelers on April 28, 2007, and will be released on August 25th 2009, when the Steelers make their final cuts to get down to the allowed 53 man roster. At least thats our prediction here at Pittsburgh Blitz for the career practice dummy Sherrod will be. His value is as camp fodder and not much more to the Steelers. With the addition of rookie TE David Johnson it is even less.

Well that’s the lowdown on the tight ends, thanks for reading and your comments are always welcome. Let us know what you think.

*Check back soon for the fifth edition of this nine part series. Next up will be the offensive line.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.