Article

Pat Freiermuth Tabbed As Steelers’ Potential First-Time Pro Bowl Selection

Last season, first round pick Najee Harris went to the Pro Bowl. This year, second round pick Pat Freiermuth could join him. NFL.com’s Nick Shook put together a list of most likely first-time Pro Bowl selections for each AFC Team and for the Steelers, landed on Freiermuth. Here’s what Shook wrote:

“A new quarterback will make the going a little rougher, at least initially, but a reliable tight end is often a young passer’s best friend. I expect Freiermuth to see a ton of targets, no matter who plays quarterback for Pittsburgh in 2022, and to be in the conversation for the Pro Bowl, even with some stiff competition (including Mark Andrews and Travis Kelce) awaiting him.”

It’s hard to disagree with Shook’s characterization of how Freiermuth will be used this year. Regardless of who is at quarterback, Mitch Trubisky or Kenny Pickett, Freiermuth should benefit. A new and/or rookie quarterback could lean heavily on a sure-handed tight end as Freiermuth proved to be last season. He came out of Penn State as-advertised and it was a sincere conversation whenever he dropped a pass. That’s how infrequent it happened. Here’s how we summed him up exiting training camp:

“Freiermuth had the highest catch percentage of any Steeler we’ve tracked in camp with a minimum of 20 targets. 21 grabs on 24 targets, far and away first place on this list, and his final target of camp was incomplete, caught but unable to get both feet inbounds. He didn’t benefit from easy, checkdown throws or grabs in the flat either. There were several downfield, combat catches that he simply made look easy. Already, I’d argue Freiermuth has the second best hands of anyone on this team, only behind JuJu Smith-Schuster, and that may change once we see more of Freiermuth throughout the season.”

That carried over once the games counted. According to Pro Football Reference, he dropped two passes last year, just a 2.5% rate, and he made combat catch after combat catch.

Despite being a rookie and splitting time with Eric Ebron the first six weeks of last season, Freiermuth still managed to put up a 60/497/7 stat line. As the clear full-time starter entering 2022 and a full season under his belt, it’s realistic to believe his play and production will improve. The only downside is the Steelers may not be as pass-happy with a new quarterback and hopefully won’t dig themselves as many holes as they did a year ago. But Freiermuth could still post a 65/675/5 sort of stat line. Increasing his yards per catch from last year, just 8.3 per grab, will be key.

Assuming that projection, Freiermuth’s odds of making the Pro Bowl will be low. Competing with elite names like Mark Andrews (107/1361/9) and Travis Kelce (92/1125/9) are heavy-hitters among this group. There’s even Miami’s Mike Gesicki who put up better numbers than Freiermuth across the board last season.

Offering some grace to Shook, it’s difficult to come up with another name for the Steelers as a first Pro Bowl candidate. Perhaps newly signed guard James Daniels if he plays the way Pittsburgh expects him to. If CB Ahkello Witherspoon can do what he did to end the year over a full season, putting up big interception numbers, maybe he could throw his hat into the ring. Choosing Freiermuth is certainly a reasonable selection and if the worst part of his 2022 season is how he was snubbed by Kelce and Andrews for a Pro Bowl berth, it’ll be an excellent problem to have.

To Top
error: Alert: Content is protected !!