Matt Canada wasn’t the one who decided on the Pittsburgh Steelers drafting Pat Freiermuth with the 55th overall pick in this year’s draft. But he’s sure glad the brain trust of Mike Tomlin, Kevin Colbert, and Art Rooney II landed on Freiermuth’s name.
Speaking to reporters Thursday, Canada talked up the job Freiermuth has done.
“He’s playing very, very well,” Canada told reporters via audio from the team. “Mr. Rooney, Mr. Colbert and Coach [Tomlin], the decision to make that pick was a great one for us. Great for the organization. Because he’s making a lot of good plays. As I’ve said, I’m a big fan of him. He’s a student of the game, the way he works, his desire to be good. I really like him.”
Freiermuth continues to make clutch plays for Pittsburgh, hauling in two touchdown in Week 9’s win over the Chicago Bears. He became the first Steelers’ rookie tight end with a multi-touchdown performance since Heath Miller in 2005 and only the third since 1990, joining Miller and Eric Green.
On the season, Freiermuth is up to 27 receptions for 245 yards and four touchdowns. All four of his scores have come inside the ten yard line while three of them, including both against the Bears, came on third down. Freiermuth has assumed JuJu Smith-Schuster’s role, the go-to guy in big moments, something Canada alluded to.
“You go back to Week 1 and JuJu was healthy. Some of those pivotal moments, third downs, in the red zone. I mean, you’re going to go to him…the more a guy proves himself, the more you look for those matchups, that would certainly be true.”
Though Eric Ebron is likely to be healthy enough to play this weekend against his former team, the Lions, Freiermuth is the team’s clear-cut starter going forward. He won’t be an every-down player the way Heath Miller was, not yet anyway, but he’s played 70+% of the snaps the last two weeks. Even if Ebron slightly chips into that figure, Freiermuth should play around 60% of the snaps, if not more, the rest of the way. And by 2022, Freiermuth will probably be *the* guy especially if he gets a little bit stronger this offseason to improve his in-line blocking.