ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The Pittsburgh Steelers selected former Michigan tight end Zach Gentry in the fifth round of the NFL draft.
Jim Harbaugh recruited Gentry as a four-star quarterback from New Mexico and quickly converted him to tight end. While the move drew criticism at first, it worked out for Gentry, who is now on an NFL roster.
Gentry didn't play much in 2016 as he adapted to his new position, but once he became part of the offense in 2017, his 6-foot-8-inch frame made him a mismatch for defenders.
Over the last two seasons, Gentry caught 49 passes for 817 yards and four touchdowns. He was one of Shea Patterson's favorite targets last season.
Gentry has a chance to be a very good professional tight end, but he was selected so late because he's an unfinished product.
Gentry has the size to be a dangerous red zone target, but he only caught four touchdown passes in 26 games the last two seasons. Michigan didn't have a lot of receiving touchdowns, but Gentry was often a nonfactor in goal line passing situations.
He also dropped some important passes late last season, particularly in the Ohio State game. Drops weren't a major issue for Gentry throughout his career, and his hands will improve as he continues to adapt to the position.
Developing Gentry will certainly be a project, but he has a high ceiling and could be a great weapon in the passing game before his professional career ends.