Mike Gesicki was a star athlete coming out of high school in volleyball and basketball. He translated those skills to the football field with two big seasons as a starter. Last season, Gesicki capped off his college career with 57 receptions for 563 yards and nine touchdowns. The Pittsburgh Steelers already have one Penn State tight end on their roster, could they add another?
School: Penn State
Gesicki uses his length, and athleticism to attack the middle of the field. He is strong in running down the seam and making plays on the ball in the air. He can stretch the field vertically from the slot and brings size and strength over the middle. Mike Gesicki has great hands, and does well on contested catches, adjusting to passes in the air.
He is not a refined blocker, but does bring effort into the blocking game. When getting him on the move, he is able to land his assignment, which is enough to open levels of the offense with him involved.
Take the two plays below for example. Shifting from left to right as the ball is snapped, Gesicki is able to pick up the block that sealed the hole for Saquon Barkley to convert a second and one.
On the play below, it is the same design. The play action and Gesicki in motion freezes the defense, which opens Gesicki up to catch the ball in space. He uses his athleticism convert the pass for a first down.
Gesicki is more top heavy and has a basketball build more than a football player build. He can pull off the quick block to free his running back into space. However, as a power blocker, in-line, he is not going to give you much. He is unable to hold blocks, and is quick to lose blocks and end up on the ground. His bet is to be used out of the slot.
Speaking of on the ground, his route tree is unrefined. He is able to get space when running up the seam. However, in terms of changing speeds, and stopping in and out of breaking routes, he is not fluid and does not plant hard. There were multiple occasions last season where he would up on the ground when shifting out of his breaks.
Pro Comparison: Cameron Brate
If Gesicki is going to succeed in the NFL, it will be in a role similar to that of Cameron Brate of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Brate is used to attack the seams. He is not a refined route runner, and therefore runs hot and cold in the passing game. However, his deep threat ability over the middle, and red zone capabilities combined with a nice threat to run with the ball on flare routes is enough to make him a threat in the passing game.
However, as the Buccaneers realized, a tight end such as O.J. Howard who is a better in-line blocker is needed to compliment him. Putting Gesicki in-line and expecting him to make an impact on the running downs is a bad idea. In the correct role, he can be a threat. When asked to step out of his boundaries and become an in-line, every down tight end, his weaknesses will be exposed in the NFL.
A fit for Pittsburgh Steelers?
Another player who could be looked at in a similar light to Gesicki is Ladarius Green. It is the same ability to attack the seams, and create with yards after the catch. That is what caught the Steelers eyes with Green. His compliment would keep safeties frozen over the middle, and Martavis Bryant and Antonio Brown would have more space outside, with JuJu Smith-Schuster getting more space underneath. That is how Gesicki could be used.
However, Vance McDonald is strong with the ball in his hands and was emerging as a threat over the middle as the season went on. In terms of blocking and all of the other factors that come with being a tight end, he is much better. Gesicki would spend his first season as the third tight end, and therefore would not be high on the value list when it comes to the Steelers. As a fourth or fifth round luxury pick, who could start in 2019? Maybe. Before then, it would be farfetched.