Steelers Prospect Watch: Hunter Henry


Could the Steelers be in search of a new tight end in the draft?

With Heath Miller off to retirement, the Steelers face one of the biggest decisions of the off-season.  Where do we find Miller’s replacement?

Matt Spaeth and Jesse James are the only tight ends on the roster to see the field last season.  Spaeth was used as a blocker while James scored one touchdown on eight receptions in his rookie season.

There is speculation among Steeler fans and experts where the team will find the successor to Miller.  Would the Steelers consider adding a tight end via free agency? Or could they select Ben’s new target in this year’s draft?

If they do go the route of the draft, there is no one better than Arkansas’s Hunter Henry.  The junior was named an All-American and All-SEC in 2015 while winning the John Mackey award as the nation’s top tight end. 

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Henry has the ideal look of the modern day tight end.  Standing 6’5 and weighing 256, this Razorback star possesses tremendous strength and speed for the position.  He finished 2015 with 71 catches, 739 yards and 3 touchdowns.  Playing in Brett Bielema’s run heavy offense, Henry was still able to shine.

But Henry is not just a pass catcher.  He plays with high effort when run blocking, especially when reaching the linebackers.  This kid plays to the whistle and finishes every play even when he goes out of bounds. 

What sets Henry apart is his route running and ability to play in the slot.  He shows great release off the line of scrimmage while being able to run any route.  His breaks in- and out- of routes are extremely fluid and he is able to create separation from defenders.

Henry has a great feel for the game.  In one play from Arkansas’ upset loss to Toledo, he runs a tremendous out route to the sideline. 

With a defender drape over him coming out of the break, Henry is still able to make the catch and get both feet in bounds.  Even as he is knocked out, he is still fighting for extra yards.  This kid is a grinder, a real war daddy.  Henry is a guy you want in your foxhole.

If the Steelers do tab Henry with the 25th selection, he will be the first tight end drafted in the first round since Miller.  Heath was also a Mackey award winner when he was selected in 2005 out of Virginia.  Like Miller, Henry can be that reliable lifeline Ben loves on third down and red zone situations.

Next: Steelers Prospect Watch: Eli Apple

There is some truth that the defense should be the main focus of the Steelers first round pick.  But passing on a tight end like Henry will be a hard for a team with such a glaring need at the position.