PFF Ranks Pat Freiermuth Third In Tight End Slot Production, Najee Harris Ninth In Running Back Pass Pro

According to recent rankings by Pro Football Focus, two Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 draft picks rank in the top-10 in certain position-based metrics. That is, running back Najee Harris ranked ninth in pass blocking among running backs, and tight end Pat Freiermuth ranked third in tight end slot production.

According to the PFF rankings via Gordan McGuinnes, Freiermuth had 375 slot yards, which ranks third and only trails Baltimore Ravens’ Mark Andrews and Kansas City Chiefs’ Travis Kelce. He also had the third most slot reception with 28, and the second most slot yards per route with 2.22 among the ten tight ends on the rankings.

For context, Freiermuth lined up in the slot on 36.4% of his 2022 season snaps, and did so over 50% of snaps in the team’s final three games. For many tight ends, playing in the slot is not easy, as it commands comparable athleticism to receivers. In fact, Freiermuth’s slot play was part of the impetus for the team trading away receiver Chase Claypool to the Chicago Bears, who was the team’s slot receiver to begin the season.

The fact that Freiermuth was able to do so at a top-3 rate speaks to his impressive career trajectory. If he continues to develop, he may wind up putting together a 10-year career with a comparable resume to Steelers’ great Heath Miller. If one thing is for sure, it’s that he has a young quarterback that the team believes in to develop chemistry with.

For Harris, ranking in the top ten in pass blocking is impressive. He notably had 99 pass blocking snaps, which is more than anyone else on the top-10 list, and nobody that ranks over him has more than 88. Considering the context of a larger sample, his 64.4 grade is more impressive. In the 99 pass blocking snaps, Harris allowed eight pressures, which is tied with Buffalo Bills’ Devin Singletary and Baltimore Ravens’ Patrick Richard.

Pass blocking is arguably the most underrated trait of a running back. Oftentimes for running backs, the effort is non-existent, and the quarterback ultimately pays the price. Having a reliable pass-blocking running back is a great asset for an offense, and Harris’ ranking is certainly encouraging.

While Harris saw no shortage of criticism in his young NFL career, he certainly stepped it up to close the 2022 season. His play improved immensely after his training camp injury healed, and his high ranking in pass-blocking speaks to that. With another season under his belt and new-found chemistry with his offensive line, look for Harris to potentially have his best season yet in 2023.

To Top
error: Alert: Content is protected !!