There’s something funny about the idea of Pittsburgh Steelers fans being upset over the team drafting a tight end in the second round, given that it’s something they have wanted the team to address early in the draft for some time now. Like everything, however, it’s relative, and the debate will be whether or not they should have taken center Creed Humphrey instead.
Regardless of how it plays out, it’s already old news and irrevocable. Who they have now is Pat Freiermuth, who is going to be a major addition to the tight end room and will increase the dynamic capabilities of this offense.
And he’s looking forward to working with the guy he literally grew up watching in quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. It also helps that he’s coming out of Penn State, where it’s fair to say that he did pretty well for himself. And now he hopes to expand on that with Roethlisberger and the Steelers.
“Growing up, I’ve obviously seen him play a bunch and ball out, and it’s kind of weird that he’s gonna be my quarterback,” Freiermuth told reporters during his conference call shortly after being selected. “I can’t wait to go out there and catch footballs from him and make plays for him. It’s gonna be an unreal experience just to be with that offense with him.”
Roethlisberger, like most quarterbacks, places a lot of value in having a reliable tight end as something of a security blanket. While they haven’t made major draft investments in the position in recent years, they have done so via trade and free agency, most recently signing Eric Ebron last year, who caught 56 passes for 558 yards and five touchdowns in his first season with the Steelers.
Since the season ended, they endured the retirement of Vance McDonald, who went 50-for-610 just two years earlier, a decision that left them dangerously thin at the position, with just Zach Gentry, Kevin Rader, and a couple of other practice squad-level players to speak of.
The addition of Freiermuth, a tight end who is capable of playing every role within the scope of the position, really opens things up for the offense, hopefully something new offensive coordinator Matt Canada can take advantage of when paired with Ebron together.
Freiermuth is not going to be the next great receiving tight end, by any means. He certainly should not draw comparisons to any Rob Gronkowski or Travis Kelce. But he can get open and move the chains for Roethlisberger, and I can bet that he’s really happy about that.
But he’ll be even happier if they can find another lineman later tonight who will find it equally unreal to play with the future Hall of Famer. They’ve added the necessary skill position players to round out the offense. Now they just need to restack the trenches.