Kovacevic: Did Steelers shortchange offense?


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Diontae Johnson. - TOLEDO

Not without cause, the Steelers' dramatic drafting of Devin Bush has dominated discussion of their 2019 class. Everyone wanted defense, everyone wanted splash, and this offered a dynamite dose of both.

The offense?

I guess we'll have to wait, but I won't lie: I'd had an ideal in my head of a pass-catching tight end and a field-stretching wide receiver, not necessarily in that order, and neither of those came to pass:

Oh, there's a wide receiver up there, and it's a promising pick in Diontae Johnson, a razor-sharp route-runner out of Toledo whose style, size, speed and school size -- and nothing else yet, to say the least -- can be compared to a young Antonio Brown. It'll be fun at Saint Vincent to focus on how quickly he andĀ Ben Roethlisberger, who's constantly admonishing young receivers to run their routes "like Julian Edelman," might mesh.

But what's that mean for 2019?

A rich man's Ryan Switzer?

Help on the return teams?

There's a tight end up there, too, in towering 6-foot-8 Zach Gentry out of Michigan. Having been converted from quarterback by Jim Harbaugh two years ago, though, he's much more a project than a work in progress. He's obviously got athleticism to hold a quarterback's scholarship at that particular school, and he did have 32 catches for 514 yards this past season, but his blocking is universally accepted as being well ahead of his hands.

Asked about Gentry's receiving, James Daniel, the Steelers' tight ends coach, candidly replied, "He was a quarterback. So I would say he's more depth at the receiving end. He has some adjusting to do. He can become a good blocker, I think."

Gronk II he ain't.

Please don't misunderstand: I'm not knocking either pick. That'd be silly six months from now, never mind the weekend they're drafted. I'm just stressing that this team, which has now taken a defensive player first in nine of the past 11 drafts, which hasn't taken an offensive player at a skill position since Rashard Mendenhall in 2008, will again be hoping to have an elite offense without adding elite talent.

That's what that is, too: It's hoping.

It's hoping Roethlisberger can find a go-to target above Switzer's pay grade, particularly on third downs. It's hoping Vance McDonald breaks from history and stays on the field. It's hoping JuJu Smith-Schuster can fight through double-coverage. It's hoping James Washington's combat catches make more than a cameo. It's hoping Donte Moncrief can be that field-stretcher.

For me, that feels like hoping a little too hard.

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