Steelers News

Bruce Arians Texted Ben Roethlisberger At Draft, Pat Freiermuth ‘The Closest Thing To Heath Miller I’ve Ever Seen’

How involved is Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the team’s draft process? Well, his initial reaction to their drafting tight end Pat Freiermuth out of Penn State may be illuminating in that regard. He told reporters earlier today that he “didn’t know” who Freiermuth was.

I was on a date with my wife, and the ESPN alert came through and said that we drafted Pat Freiermuth. I was like, ‘I don’t know who this is’. I had no idea who Pat was”, he said, though a heads up from an old friend, former offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, did the trick. “Probably 15, 20, 30 seconds later, I got a text from BA; he said ‘he’s the closest thing to Heath Miller I’ve ever seen. You’ll love this kid’. That was enough for me”.

Miller was a first-round pick in 2005 by the Steelers, a year after Roethlisberger was taken 11th overall, and the two forged a close personal and professional relationship over the course of the next decade-plus. He was Roethlisberger’s security blanket at the tight end position for 11 years, and they never quite adequately replaced him after his retirement in 2015.

Until, perhaps, now. Freiermuth is very much looking the part so far, with 27 receptions for 245 yards and four touchdowns through eight games on the season. He is also showing himself to be a very willing blocker with room to grow in that regard.

The rookie tight end caught two touchdowns on Sunday, part of a five-catch, 43-yard night, and it just so happened Miller was in the house. “He got to meet Heath before the game”, Roethlisberger pointed out. “And then Pat came up to me I think in the fourth quarter and asked if I could ask Heath to come to every game. Maybe he’s trying to impress Heath. We’ll take it”.

After Miller retired, the Steelers looked to free agency and signed Ladarius Green, a different kind of tight end, more of a receiving threat. Due to health, he only saw the first year of a four-year deal. A year later, they traded for Vance McDonald, with whom Roethlisberger also grew close, though he only had one truly productive year out of four in Pittsburgh.

Eric Ebron was brought in last season, and, statistically, he had a solid season as a pass-catcher, but has never been mistaken for a blocker. This season, he has given was significantly to Freiermuth, particularly in the past two games while out with an injury.

The Penn State product, drafted in the second round, is the first tight end the Steelers have selected earlier than the fifth round since Matt Spaeth in 2007. Though they’ve looked to free agency and the trade market for answers, it wasn’t until they went back to the draft well that they finally found their true successor to HEEEATH. Just call him MUUUTH.

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