Steelers Twitter Hints at Connor Heyward’s Potential Future: Analyst

Connor Heyward

Getty Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 rookie Connor Heyward could switch positions this season, according to Steelers Depot's Alex Kozora.

The NFL offseason is notoriously a time for rumors to swirl around the league. This past week, the Pittsburgh Steelers may have indirectly contributed to starting a rumor about one of their own players.

On May 18, the Steelers twitter account posted a picture of the team’s tight ends flexing for the camera. Pictured in the photo was starter Pat Freiermuth along with Zach Gentry, Darnell Washington and Rodney Williams.

Interestingly, Connor Heyward was missing.

No, the Steelers have not cut the younger Heyward. Steelers Depot’s Alex Kozora speculated that his absence from the tight end photo could mean that he will be switching positions this season.

“Based on that photo, and I know it’s just one photo, it suggests Heyward will be in a different group this year,” Kozora wrote. “If he’s not with the tight ends, then he’ll join the running back/fullback group led by RBs Coach Eddie Faulkner with the runners (Najee Harris, Jaylen Warren, etc.) and the fullbacks (Derek Watt last year, Monte Pottebaum this year).”

On the official Steelers roster, the team lists Heyward as a TE/FB.

Connor Heyward Switching to Fullback?

Counting Heyward as a tight end, the Steelers officially have five players at the position on their current roster. More than likely, at least one, if not two, of those tight ends will not make the final roster out of the preseason.

On May 11, Bleacher Report’s Joe Tansey called Heyward a cut candidate. Freiermuth is an obvious lock to make the roster as is rookie third-round pick Washington.

This offseason, the Steelers elected to re-sign Gentry. Tansey wrote that Gentry and Heyward “serve the same purpose” as a blocking tight end, thus implying the re-signing of Gentry meant the end of Heyward’s tenure with the Steelers.

A position change, though, means the Steelers wouldn’t necessarily have to choose between Gentry and Heyward. The team could keep both, utilizing each in different positions.

Kozora argued a position change for Heyward would also be best for him regardless of who else the Steelers have at tight end.

“Heyward was never a tight end,” Kozora wrote. “He’s not even six foot with short arms. Pittsburgh moved him around last year, especially as the year went on, and though he did often have a tight end alignment near the line of scrimmage, he was rarely ever actually on the ball.

“He was a Y-off, lined up a yard behind the LOS, and usually meant he would pull across on split flow action in the run game. Pittsburgh adjusted his usage during his rookie year, first asking him to stay on his feet when he pulled across and upon realizing his lack of size was an issue, they modified course and had him cut defenders instead.

“The latter was far more effective.”

Benefits to Having Heyward Move Away from TE

The switch to fullback could be beneficial for Heyward’s career. It seems to be good idea for the Steelers too.

In a pinch, Heyward could line up as a tight end. But if he mostly plays fullback, the Steelers can keep Freiermuth, Washington and Gentry on the active roster.

Then Heyward will act as a replacement for Derek Watt (the middle of brother of J.J. and T.J. Watt). The 30-year-old spent three seasons with the Steelers but didn’t play much on offense and became a free agent this offseason.

It’s unlikely the Steelers re-sign Watt. Heyward can slide into his role and might be a better fit as a more versatile fullback and off-the-ball tight end.

“Heyward can get out in the flat off play-action, do a little lead blocking and get moved around the formation and stand up in the slot in some of the empty formations the Steelers would be wise to run this season,” wrote Kozora.

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