Heath Miller retired. Matt Spaeth failed his physical and was released. So who’s looking to fill the tight end role for the Pittsburgh Steelers?
The answer to that question is Jesse James. He’s a player that I actually saw play live before he was a pro. At the Croke Park classic, when fellow Penn State alum Christian Hackenberg was throwing him the ball, James looked good on his way to seven catches for 60 yards. After the game Hackenberg said: “He’s a very smart football player, he understands the game extremely well. His football knowledge is through the roof. He’s one of the those guys that you know you’re on the same page with. You know that Jesse is going to be at the right spot at the right time, and that’s huge for us.”
The first thing you notice about James is that he’s a huge target, at 6’7. James totalled 38 receptions, 396 yards and three touchdowns for the Penn State Nittany Lions in his final season. He is also the joint career leader in touchdowns for a tight end with 11.
Last year the former fifth round pick looked like he could really make an impact throughout training camp. But then came the first pre-season game and he had two dropped passes. It was hardly an illustrious start. James finished the year playing in eight games, starting two. In his time on the active roster James collected eight receptions for 56 yards and a touchdown. His athleticism is clearly visible on this play [Click here to watch the video].
Whilst the pressure to take over from Miller will be firmly on free agent signing Ladarius Green, James will get multiple chances to prove that he should be the primary tight end.