At some point, the Steelers had to come to grips with the inevitable — finding tight end Heath Miller's successor. On Saturday, the Steelers didn't look far while on the clock in the fifth round of the NFL Draft. They selected Glassport native Jesse James, a raw 6-foot-7, 261-pound tight end who left Penn State early amid mixed reviews. James, a South Allegheny graduate, was among the highest-rated tight ends in this year's draft. But his stock took a hit, in part, because of an uninspiring effort in the NFL Combine and pedestrian numbers during his final season with the Nittany Lions. The Steelers, though, were more impressed with James' potential than his productivity. With only four tight ends on the current roster, there was plenty of room to invest another late-round pick on a tight end. The Steelers spent seventh-round picks on Rob Blanchflower (2014) and David Paulson (2012). “We're going to bring him in, and see if he is good in all phases of the game,” said tight ends coach James Daniel. “He has enough talent to be good in all phases.” Miller, 32, has been one of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's go-to target during much of his 11-year career, particularly on possession downs. However, the Steelers' depth concerns at the position had to be addressed. It's one reason why they signed free agent Michael Egnew. Daniel said the James “played a lot of football at Penn State.” However, he didn't have a lot of catches in 31 career starts. Still, James is an inviting target with his length, especially in the red zone. He can carve out space there. He figured those attributes would have made him a third- or fourth-round pick. “The red zone is an area where you want a guy with my measurable to help execute those red zone targets,” James said. “I didn't get caught up with the rounds. I just knew wherever I would get the chance.
Penn State tight end James, a South Allegheny grad, goes to Steelers in 5th round
Pittsburgh Tribune Review | May 3