While the Pittsburgh Steelers did extend the contract of veteran tight end Heath Miller during the offseason, they were wise to address the depth at the position on day three of the 2014 NFL Draft nonetheless.
Their selection? Massachusetts tight end Rob Blanchflower, a 6-foot-4, 256-pound prospect that has struggled with a few injuries, but possesses great upside.
“We drafted Rob Blanchflower with our seventh-round pick,” Steelers tight ends coach James Daniel said just after the pick was made. “Rob was a guy who we had targeted. We brought him in for a visit, and I spent a lot of time getting to know him. I think he’s got a chance to be helpful for us being a part of this football team.
“He has a high level of aggression. He’s a two-phase guy, which is different than a lot of the guys you have coming at you right now. We look for guys that are either going to be run blockers or they’re going to be pass receivers. He’s adept at both of them so that is something that interests us in him. He’s playing in a multiple formation offense so that gave us a chance to look at him in a lot of things.”
While we will likely have to wait a while to find out if Blanchflower will one day succeed Miller, the two already have a lot in common. As I pointed out on Twitter after the selection was made, both had sports hernias before they were drafted.
“He had sports hernia surgery after the season, so he played with some muscle problems during the season,” said Daniels, who also noted that Blanchflower is now over the injury.
In order for Blanchflower to make the Steelers final 53 man roster this year, he’s going to have to contribute and show that aggression of his on special teams.
“He did a little bit of it, but he played all year with some factors that probably kept him from being a special teams guy,” said Daniels. “I think he’s special teams capable though.”
In 38 games played at Massachusetts, Blanchflower caught 109 passes for 1,164 yards and nine touchdowns.