- Scott Brown, ESPN Pittsburgh Steelers reporter
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General manager Kevin Colbert and coach Mike Tomlin were among the Steelers representatives at Miami’s workout, and tight end is the one need that the team has on offense.
Walford did not try to improve on the 40-yard dash time of 4.79 seconds he posted at the NFL scouting combine because he recently pulled a hamstring. The 6-foot-4, 251-pouder did run routes during his pro day in Coral Gables.
Walford could go as early as the second round of the NFL draft because of his athleticism and upside – and because the tight end class is lacking in both depth and quality, pushing the better players up in it.
Walford caught 44 passes for 676 yards and seven touchdowns last season and was a finalist for the Mackey Award, given annually to the top tight end in college football
He is a relative latecomer to the game having starred in basketball at Glades Central High School, the alma mater of former Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes, before focusing on football.
The Steelers return every starter on an offense that finished second in the NFL last season with 411.1 yards per game. But starting tight end Heath Miller will be entering his 11tt season in 2015, and backup Matt Spaeth will be going into his ninth season.
The Steelers have already hosted Penn State tight end Jesse James for a pre-draft visit, and they are clearly doing their homework on the position with the need to add young talent to it.
Walford has to become more consistent as a pass catcher, but he projects as a receiving threat who also will be an effective blocker at the next level.
And he is not lacking for confidence.
“I am the best tight end in this draft,” Walford said at the NFL combine. “I can block, I can catch, I can run after the catch, do everything that a tight end is expected to do.”
302dScott Brown and Jamison Hensley