Pat Freiermuth isn’t part of this new wave of tight ends. He doesn’t run a 4.5. He’s not going to blow by safeties, hurdle over linebackers, or juke out a corner. He’s old-school. Exactly the type of tight end the Steelers have been looking for both in his play style and his mentality.
On Friday, Freiermuth joined The Steve Jones Show to describe his playing style and football career.
“I’m not some athletic freak like Mike [Gesicki] who’s going to hurdle dudes,” Freiermuth said. “But I’m going to be a good blocker and pass protect and make the solid plays.”
Gesicki, another former Penn State tight end, was taken 42nd overall in the 2018 draft by the Miami Dolphins. He had absurdly good workout numbers, posting a 4.54 40, 41.5-inch vertical, and 6.76 three-cone at 247 pounds. Freiermuth didn’t test at his Pro Day, but it’s safe to say none of his numbers would’ve come close to that. He’s rumored to run in the 4.7 range. But Gesicki is that new-age, stand-up tight end. Freiermuth has been doing the dirty work for years, dating back to his high school days at Brooks High School in Massachusetts.
“In high school, I was asked to block. I was asked to be in-line. I was asked to hit the blocking sled every single day. I think it was beneficial to me that my high school coaches were my cousin and uncle who coached at the college ranks. They knew what to expect as a tight end and what coaches want. They made me block. They didn’t split me out all the time. They made me go in there and put my hand in the dirt and be physical at the line of scrimmage.”
Despite being asked to block more than most, he still put up numbers in the pass game. In his senior year of high school, he caught 20 passes for 472 yards. Over his final two seasons, he found the end zone 10 total times.
That traditional, Y-tight end is what the Steelers have been searching for since Heath Miller retired. They had some of that with Vance McDonald, but his star dimmed out over his final pair of seasons. Perhaps that type of skillset scarcity is one reason why Pittsburgh hasn’t heavily invested in the position in over a decade. Freiermuth became just the third tight end drafted by Kevin Colbert in the top four rounds since Colbert took over the team in 2000. Miller in 2005 and Matt Spaeth in 2007 are the only others.
Freiermuth’s lack of big athletic tools is likely going to limit his upside. He’s unlikely to ever be an elite, top five tight end. But he fits Pittsburgh’s scheme perfectly and has the potential to carve out a long, steady career in black and gold.