Hometown boy does good as the Steelers select the Mon Valley native with the coolest name in the draft, tight end Jesse James from Penn State (via South Allegheny HS) with their 5th round pick.
Here’s the skinny on James, who was part of Joe Paterno’s last recruiting class:
NFL COMPARISON: Phillip Supernaw
BOTTOM LINE: Big, in-line tight end with room on his frame for more muscle, but he's limited by a lack of functional athleticism and a mechanical play demeanor. James isn't a plus receiver with great hands and he lacks the quickness to consistently free himself from man coverage, so he must become a more determined run blocker in order to have a shot at starting in the NFL.
James is a well-rounded tight end who became a security blanket for the quarterback with his versatility as a slot receiver and inline tight end. He can effectively play on all three downs with many attributes that will be coveted by NFL evaluators. With his size and firm grasp of blocking principles, James has just one major lingering question - consistency.
A huge target with above-average athleticism and reliable hands, James has the tools to be a tough matchup in the red zone. He has the ability to catch the ball in traffic and enough straight-line speed to be a deep threat down the seam, but often has trouble getting separation in man coverage. James' biggest strengths are his height and reach, but he really needs to improve his technique as a run blocker if he is going to develop into an every-down tight end in the NFL.
From his Penn State bio:
James is director of marketing for Penn State's Uplifting Athletes chapter, which has raised more than $825,000 for kidney cancer patients, their families and research since the first Penn State Lift For Life was held in 2003. Among 10 returning players from the greater Pittsburgh area, James joins a long line of outstanding Nittany Lion football student-athletes from Western Pennsylvania.
A pair of articles on him from his South Allegheny days by our high school football gurus Brad Everett & Mike White:
NFL Combine 40:
Crushing it at Penn State's Lift for Life: