Steelers News

2021 Exit Meetings – TE Pat Freiermuth

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back in the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex earlier than they had anticipated, having been ousted from the postseason in the opening round, which unfortunately marks the fifth consecutive season in which they failed to win a postseason game—a new record for the franchise since the merger. Yet again, they find themselves undergoing the exit meeting process earlier than anticipated, which means so are we.

The Steelers did arguably perform at or above expectations this year by going 9-7-1 and making the postseason at all, a reflection of just how much talent they lost during the offseason, from the majority of the offensive line to Mike Hilton, Bud Dupree, Steven Nelson, and Vince Williams—not to mention Stephon Tuitt, essentially.

While we might not know all the details about what goes on between head coach Mike Tomlin and his players during these exit meetings, we do know how we would conduct those meetings if they were let up to us. So here are the Depot’s exit meetings for the Steelers’ roster following the 2021 season.

Player: TE Pat Freiermuth

Position: TE

Experience: 1 Year

As with the Steelers’ first-round pick, there remains continued debate over whether or not the team made the most optimal selection for their circumstances in the second round. What cannot be denied is that they still came away with some fine players in their own right.

First-round running back Najee Harris set a number of franchise rookie records over the course of the season, as well as an NFL rookie record for the most touches without a fumble (second-most ever). Second-round tight end Pat Freiermuth did tie one franchise rookie record—the most touchdowns by a rookie tight end (and tied for the second-most by a tight end in franchise history) with seven.

That is one thing Pittsburgh’s top two picks did well this year: They got into the end zone. Between Harris and Freiermuth, they accounted for 17 touchdowns. In case you’re wondering how meaningful that is, the Steelers as an offense scored 33 touchdowns on the season, so they accounted for more than half of them. Add in Diontae Johnson’s eight, and you only have eight more offensive touchdowns for all but three of their players. Nobody else scored more than twice.

But back to Freiermuth, since that is the topic at hand, the Penn State product proved as a rookie that he has what it takes to be a starting number one tight end. While he will continue to grow into a blocker—Zach Gentry served as the primary blocker—his soft hands make him a reliable target in the passing game, and he shows potential as a tackle-breaker able to produce yards after the catch.

The next evolution of his game may come naturally—hopefully—with the changing of the guard at quarterback, and with an update to the offensive line. The Steelers need to get him deeper targets and in open space more so that he can get down the field and create yards after the catch. That was his weakest area, statistically, this past season, even though he was not deficient in moving people. It’s just that his average depth of reception was so shallow.

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