Did the Pittsburgh Steelers get the best all-around tight end in the 2021 NFL Draft class and one that’s destined to play in the league for at least a decade? Time will certainly give us the answer to those questions and more when it comes to tight end Pat Freiermuth out of Penn State. It goes without saying that Bucky Brooks of the NFL Network really believes the Steelers got themselves a prize in their second-round selection.
“The most complete “Y” tight end in the draft,” Brooks said. “Freiermuth is a nasty in-line blocker with the capacity to move defenders in the running game while also flashing enough quickness to climb to the second level. As a pass catcher, he is a chain mover with soft hands and an uncanny knack for getting open between the hashes. The Penn State product should man the position for a decade in Pittsburgh as a Jason Witten-like playmaker over the middle of the field.”
That might be a little strong of an endorsement of Freiermuth from Brooks, but I certainly see where his head is at just the same. After all, Freiermuth does have a lot of upside after exiting Penn State having just scratched the surface when it comes to his pass receiving production. He missed most of the 2020 season with a shoulder injury as well.
The selection of the 6050, 251-pound Freiermuth on Friday makes him the earliest the Steelers have drafted a tight end since drafting Heath Miller in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft. During the pre-draft process, Freiermuth drew comparisons to Miller by longtime draftnik Greg Cosell.
Freiermuth appeared in 30 career games and made 26 starts during his career Penn State, and the Nittany Lions named him a team captain twice. He owns the record for Penn State career touchdown receptions by a tight end with 16, passing Mike Gesicki (15, 2014-17). In addition to that, Freiermuth had 92 receptions for 1,185 yards for his college career and had at least one reception in 29 straight games, dating back to early 2018. That was a school-record among tight ends for Penn State. Freiermuth registered 19 career receptions of 20 or more yards during his college career.
Freiermuth exits college as an above average blocker. He also has reliable hands in the passing game. The Steelers figure to use a lot of personnel groupings that include two tight ends in 2021 with new offensive coordinator Matt Canada now running the show. Freiermuth should start seeing the field on offense immediately in his rookie season.