The Pittsburgh Steelers selection of Michigan tight end Zach Gentry was something of a surprise pick in the fifth-round of the 2019 NFL Draft, a player many experts had projected to go few round later. And although the young tight end did not necessarily impress at the NFL Scouting Combine earlier in the year, his size should make him a mismatch for defenders as long as he can learn to use his physical gifts.
When reading the scouting reports written about him ahead of the draft, the experts seem to see a player who still has a lot of development ahead of him, but one who could also have some situational value while he works on some of the fundamental aspects of the position.
Lance Zierlein, NFL.com:
“With his size and background at Michigan, teams might be tempted to play him as a combination tight end with run-blocking duties, but he’s much better-suited in space than in the trenches. Gentry runs pretty well and moves fluidly as a route-runner, but his hands and focus can be maddening. He showed flashes of what he could do with a more capable quarterback last year, but his disappointing workouts and testing might have pushed back and out of the draft.”
Matt Miller, Bleacher Report:
STRENGTHS Smooth runner on film who gets into his route cleanly and has good cuts and breaks at his route stem. Big target over the middle with a high football IQ. Makes himself available to the quarterback with his eyes and his body. Has some seam speed and value as a 50-50 option down the field. His 34⅛-inch arms give him a massive catch radius. Will post up defenders over the middle and isn’t afraid of traffic. Developmental body that looks like it has room to grow; former quarterback who still has the lean body more natural to his old position. WEAKNESSES Among the stiffest players evaluated in the entire 2019 draft class. Lacks the light feet and loose hips to make cuts and pull away from coverage. Tested below-average athletically with a 4.9-second 40-yard dash, 29½-inch vertical jump, 110-inch broad jump, 7.4-second three-cone drill and just 12 bench-press reps. Each was good for the bottom 25th percentile among tight ends or worse. Lacks play strength, especially in the blocking game. His hands are incredibly inconsistent; he double catches a lot of balls and lets way too many throws get into his body. Doesn’t appear to be super coordinated; doesn’t have good body control or flexibility. OVERALL Zach Gentry is a former quarterback who still has room to develop physically and mentally as a three-down tight end. He didn’t develop much in the Michigan offense and will need time to acclimate to the NFL. He’s a draft-and-stash type of player and not an early-impact tight end. GRADE: 5.40 (ROUND 6 — BACKUP CALIBER) PRO COMPARISON: Ryan Griffin
Kyle Crabbs, The Draft Network:
“Zach Gentry is a seam-buster Tight End prospect who has attractive size and mobility to be considered a receiving asset at the next level. His height will serve as a natural barrier to playing with necessary functional strength, but when Gentry is placed into space and allowed to work vertically he does strong work against linebackers and safeties. Gentry may never be a featured full-time TE but his skills have a place at the next level as a receiving threat.”
Joe Marino, The Draft Network:
“While Gentry may be built like an in-line tight end, his lack of power at the point of attack and elongated releases into his route stems present notable restrictions. Gentry is most effective as a middle of the field receiver where his ball skills, hands and ability to extend and already massive catch radius frequently shows up. Limited athletic ability and leverage challenges do temper his next level projection, but Gentry has some appeal in sub packages as a TE 2/3.”