Pittsburgh Steelers to Target Tight End Early in 2013 NFL Draft?

By Curt Popejoy
Travis Kelce
David Butler-USA TODAY Sports

We are just days away from the start of the 2013 NFL draft, and I cannot recall a draft in recent memory that there is still so little understanding as to which team is taking which player. This is due in large part to the gullet of similar types of talent in this draft class along with a lack of elite quarterback talent. With that, trying to predict whom a team might select is challenging.

For the Pittsburgh Steelers, you have a team fresh off an disappointing 8-8 season marred by injuries and poor play, and coming off a free agency period that saw lots of talent leave but very little come in. That means in terms of draft strategy, there are plenty of holes to fill on both sides of a football. But one position not being discussed greatly but could be a significant need is tight end.

Last season, the tight end position, meaning Heath Miller, was a definite high point. Miller had a great season and for a fan like me seeing the tight end as a target in the passing game was a welcome addition to the offense. But with Miller suffering a knee injury late in the season his status for the start of the 2013 season is in jeopardy, and little depth behind him, the Steelers could seriously consider a tight in either the 1st or 2nd round. But which tight ends should they target?

If they choose to draft a tight end in the first round, the only option is Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert. He’s the closest thing to the total package at tight end in this draft, and is NFL ready. Eifert has the strongest hands in the draft, and would become the favorite target of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in a hurry.

But most would think Eifert a reach with the 17th overall pick. Instead the Steelers could look to the 2nd round for a player like Travis Kelce from Cincinnati. Kelce is a fast riser in recent weeks and with a physical body that rivals Eifert, better blocking and what appears to be a very high ceiling, some have said in two years Kelce will be the best tight end in this entire class. I had had a chance to study Kelce very close recently and I tend to agree. He might not be ready to step in and contribute week one like Eifert, but it won’t take him long to be in the offensive mix.

What say you, Steelers fans? Is tight end a concern for you, or are you ok with waiting until late in the draft or pass on the tight end position altogether?

Curt covers the Pittsburgh Steelers, the NFL draft, and college football for Rant Sports. Connect with Curt on Twitter @nfldraftboard.

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