First impressions have a tendency to go away an enduring impression that’s laborious to displace. That is the case for a lot of Steelers followers, together with myself, relating to TE Zach Gentry, who seemed to be a bust after his first couple seasons within the NFL. A former fifth-round draft pick of Michigan again in 2019, Gentry struggled to regulate to the NFL recreation initially popping out of faculty, taking part in 49 offensive snaps in his rookie season and had a knee sprain lead to him touchdown on IR in 2020 having solely performed 20 offensive snaps.
Zach Gentry is a inflexible participant whose top hinders his launch, however this can be a fairly palms catch. Know drops had been a fear at UM however good seize right here for a protracted achieve vs SMU. #Steelers pic.twitter.com/Te2rkBWTJG
— Alex Kozora (@Alex_Kozora) April 28, 2019
However, Gentry managed to step into the TE2 function within the offense final season after Eric Ebron went all the way down to harm, inflicting Pat Freiermuth to ascend to TE1 on the depth chart. Gentry noticed his snaps bounce to 473 on offense with a further 139 on particular groups, and caught 19 passes on 25 targets for 167 yards.
Coming into 2022 having made some flashes in coaching camp down the seam as a move catcher, Gentry isn’t shy saying that he generally is a succesful move catching possibility for Pittsburgh heading into Year Four with the crew.
“It’s one of those things I haven’t done a whole lot at this level,” Gentry stated previous to observe Saturday via video from the team’s website. “I was a big seam catcher in college and everything, so it was something I knew I was capable of doing, but it’s something I’ve been kind of honing and working on the last couple of years.”
If I’m going to be sincere, I personally did see Gentry as a draftable TE popping out of Michigan in 2019. Sure, the 6’8″, 265 lb. body is extraordinarily engaging as a big-bodied pink zone/possession fashion receiver, however the lack of athleticism and the rawness in varied elements of his recreation had me off of him fully, thus making me disillusioned when Pittsburgh elected to make use of one of many draft picks acquired from the Antonio Brown commerce with the Raiders to pick out him within the 2019 NFL Draft.
Gentry struggled out of the gate which was one thing we must always have anticipated from a rookie TE that had solely transformed from taking part in QB a number of years prior. In fantasy soccer, the expectation is usually that rookie TEs shouldn’t be anticipated to provide till yr three or 4 within the league, and that’s for the high-pedigree prospects. Gentry positively wasn’t a high-pedigree man, so I in all probability ought to have had extra grace when it got here to his growth. He talked about as a lot talking to the media above, saying that he knew that he was a pass-catching TE in school, however wanted time within the league to hone his expertise to match the calls for of the place on the NFL stage.
Heading into his contract yr, Gentry now sees the chance to function a well-rounded TE for the Steelers this season, having the possibility to showcase his growth as a move catcher to hopefully earn himself a pleasant pay day after the season.
“I think I’m very capable in that field,” Gentry continued. “Like I said, I did it a lot in college. I think when I’ve given my opportunity the last couple years, I’ve been able to execute. So I think I’ll be just fine.”
— Alex Kozora (@Alex_Kozora) December 21, 2021