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Steelers Keeping Close Watch on Senior Bowl Tight Ends

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MOBILE, Ala. — Along with every other club in the NFL, the Pittsburgh Steelers have sent their team of scouts to the Senior Bowl to scout potential talent coming in the 2019 NFL Draft.

The draft is a popular way to build a team at the professional level. Yet for an organization like the Steelers, a historically conservative franchise in free agency, the annual selection of college players is practically the only way to build/retain a team.

Pittsburgh’s success with the tight end position extends all the way back to dynasty of the 1970’s, with Bennie Cunningham playing a key role in the Steelers offense despite being overshadowed by Hall of Fame players on that side of the ball. With solid tight end talent scattered between that time and the Heath Miller era, Pittsburgh quarterbacks have long had a security blanket to throw to.

The current tight-end room includes the likes of Vance McDonald, Jesse James and Xavier Grimble. With James (unrestricted) and Grimble (restricted) set to become free agents in 2019, the Steelers may very well look to the 2019 draft class to find a replacement should neither player stick with the team through the off-season.

Enter the Senior Bowl.

The group of six tight ends here in Mobile have impressed enough to earn invites, although some are beginning to separate themselves from the pack.

Originally, I pegged the Steelers to watch out for Stetson tight end Donald Parham in my list of potential draft targets here in Mobile. Yet after being able to watch Parham close and in person, his frame (despite being 6-foot-8) doesn’t appear large enough to handle NFL defenders, and he has yet to showcase any fluidity when turning/running routes.

However, two tight ends have stepped up to the plate early in Senior Bowl practices: Foster Moreau of LSU and Drew Sample of Washington.

While Sample has elevated his game enough to be taken in the early rounds, Moreau appears to be a potential mid-round gem. During positional work and team segments of practice, Moreau consistently found himself open while running routes. Moreau’s blocking is a known commodity and he’s slowly but surely making a name for himself, even to an organization like the Steelers.

The process of evaluating talent for the upcoming draft is a long and extensive one, yet it appears the Steelers are already getting a head start for their work on the tight end position during practices at the Senior Bowl.

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