Third-round pick: Matt Spaeth

In the third round, the Steelers drafted tight end Matt Spaeth and sent in offensive coordinator Bruce Arians to talk to the media. He put on an interesting show:

Matt Spaeth is a 6-7 1/8, 270-pounder from Minnesota who won the Mackey Award last season as the nation's best tight end. In the last two seasons, Spaeth caught 73 passes for 897 yards and eight touchdowns.

BRUCE ARIANS, offensive coordinator, Pittsburgh Steelers

What do you like about this guy?

He's big, tall and fast, and he can block. He's an outstanding, prototypical tight end. At 6-7 he can stretch the field, he can handle the point of attack, it gives us good flexibility to take Heath (Miller) and move him around a lot more, and also I'm a three-tight end guy. Jerame Tuman played extremely well for us the last couple years. I like having three tight ends on the field a lot of times. It gives us a good personnel group with two tight ends who can stretch the field and all three guys who can block the point of attack, so he's a very solid, solid guy.

Does this signal a shift away from the I-formation and to a one-back offense?

It gives us that flexibility. We have an outstanding fullback and we plan on using him. It gives you more things to create more problems for the defense. Without having to put another receiver in the game, we can have Heath in the slot, have Matt in there, we could have Jerame in there. It gives you a ton of flexibility.

How fast is he?

Fast enough.

Is he more wide receiver than tight end?

No, he's pure tight end. He's very similar to Heath. He can stretch the field. I'm going to say he runs a 4.78, something close to that, 4.82. He's like Heath. He can handle the big defensive ends, he can block outside linebackers, and he can also get down the middle. And he's a good athlete. He can play in all special teams.

Would you compare him to Matt Kranchick at all?

I hope not. I hope he makes our team. He's that kind of athlete, yeah, but with a much better blocking background.

Bruce, in the second round you missed Dewayne Jarrett by one pick. Were you looking at that?

He's a heck of a player. Don't know if he'd have been in our plans or not.

Would you have pushed for him?

I'll take the fifth.

Since we're talking about other players, what about Tony Hunt? I thought he'd have been a nice pick here.

There's a lot of things that can happen tomorrow. I don't see that need as much as what we've got. Tony's speed bothers me a little bit but he is a very productive player, and there's a need for a bigger back, but Najeh (Davenport) gives us that too and I'm really pleased with him.

Did this guy block (LaMarr) Woodley at all?

Yeah, there's a great shot on his first highlight of him cracking back. He did an unbelievable job in motion cracking back trying to kill people and it might've been him on the first play of that thing. I'm not sure who he cracked back on. (Spaeth later said it wasn't Woodley).

Didn't Spaeth have a shoulder injury?

Oh yeah. That's been well documented and taken care of. Like Heath, I think he slid because of not being able to work out till late, missing most of the combine. I think we got a steal.

Kevin Colbert said last Monday that in the first round he wouldn't draft a tight end or quarterback. What made this guy so attractive in the third round as opposed to the first?

I think this is the time that we wanted one and this was a guy that we had targeted and really liked. We were ecstatic that he fell to us. We had three names and they were popping off like firecrackers right there. We just held our breath that he'd stay right there.

Did you satisfy your pass-catching needs with this pick?

Totally. Totally.

You won't be looking at receiver the rest of the way?

For a receiver to make our squad, they're going to have to be able to play special teams and do some other things. This is a tough group to crack.

Was Yamon Figurs in that group of three?

Yeah (laughs), he can do a lot of things (laughs). You've got to have some other skills to come in and break into this lineup. I probably have a higher regard of our receivers since I coached them.

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