2021 Draft Class Review – TE Pat Freiermuth

With the 2022 NFL Draft now just weeks away, it is as fitting a time as any for us to now turn our attentions backward to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ draft class of 2021, looking back on their first year in the league and what their futures look like at this point. The team got an inordinate amount of playing time from their rookie class last season, with almost every draft pick contributing significantly.

In all, the Steelers held nine draft selections, including one in the fifth round after they traded a 2022 fourth-round draft pick for one, so they won’t have one this year. They had at least one selection in every round, with two in the fourth and two in the seventh.

Their first four selections were all on offense, the first time in history they used their first four selections on one side of the ball. Their next four draft picks were all defensive players, but they finished their class with one special-teams selection.

Even though the Steelers’ top two draft picks were their best performers last year, combining for more than half of their touchdowns scored, they have also both been controversial. In the case of Najee Harris, it was simply about the positional value of a running back in the first round.

When it comes to second-round tight end Pat Freiermuth, it gets a whole lot specific. Freiermuth did a lot to get people behind him, but ultimately, the debate is whether or not they should have drafted center Creed Humphrey instead, who had a very good rookie season for the Kansas City Chiefs instead.

At least for the time being, that’s going to be a discussion whenever evaluation of Freiermuth as a draft pick comes up. He can help kill off that conversation by continuing to grow in his own right as he attempts to establish himself as a top tight end in the NFL.

The rookie garnered a reputation early for being able to catch anything thrown to him during the offseason, with even 19th-year veteran Ben Roethlisberger impressed with his ability to adjust to any angle and his surprising catch radius.

It translated into a 60-catch rookie year where he picked up 497 receiving yards and seven touchdowns, the latter a team rookie tight end record, and one off the team all-time tight end record for touchdowns in a single season.

Freiermuth’s most endearing quality is his focus. He understands that he has a lot of work to do to round out his game. He talked about wanting to work on his in-line blocking this offseason, and improving his ability to create separation and gain yards after the catch.

The fact that he averaged just 8.3 yards per carry last season certainly stands out, no matter how much that was a product of the way that he was used within the offense and by Roethlisberger as a release valve. I’m sure he sees that number to and wants to at least get it into double figures. He believes he can be a Mark Andrews-type receiving tight end. If he puts in the work, he could be.

To Top
error: Alert: Content is protected !!