Pat Freiermuth Says He’s A Top Ten Tight End In Football, Hopes To Crack Top Five In 2023

Though just two years into his career, tight end Pat Freiermuth believes he’s among the best at his position. He’s confident but not arrogant, understanding the talent around the league still in front of him. Freiermuth joined Cam Heyward for a special live edition of Heyward’s Not Just Football podcast Friday night and was asked if he’d rank himself among the top 10 tight ends in football.

“I do believe that,” he told Heyward.

So how about top five?

“Close. I have to have a good year this year to solidify that.”

And top three?

“No,” Freiermuth said with a smile.

Freiermuth quickly developed into a trusty tight end. Through his first two years, he’s caught 123 receptions with 60 catches as a rookie and 63 last year. He joined Keith Jackson as the only two tight ends in NFL history with 60+ receptions in each of his first two years.

If Freiermuth can do it a third time in 2023, he’ll have the record all by himself. A smart player who rarely drops a pass, he’s been an underneath security blanket, though the Steelers smartly got him more involved downfield. Not coincidentally, his yards per reception rose from 8.3 to a healthy 11.6 in 2022. Freiermuth hasn’t developed into a Heath Miller-like blocker but it’s passable to the point and he at least isn’t a liability.

Last October, Freiermuth made this list of the top 10 tight ends in the league, placing him 7th overall. That was one spot ahead of T.J. Hockenson, who was still with Detroit at the time. After being traded to NFC North rival Minnesota, Hockenson was force-fed the ball and put up good volume numbers there, arguably jumping Freiermuth.

Regardless, Freiermuth’s assessment seems as accurate as it is confident. But getting into that top five will be tricky. With Travis Kelce, George Kittle, Mark Andrews locks in the top three, there’s a battle for spots four and five. Freiermuth could crack that list, even if he’d be in a separate tier, with a strong 2023 season. He could lose some target shares to Allen Robinson II, a true #3 receiver and second-year wideout Calvin Austin. There is also newly drafted tight end Darnell Washington, who is going to see playing time right away, though much of that will come in 12 personnel with both him and Freiermuth on the field.

Though Freiermuth is still relatively young with more to prove, the Steelers are building up a strong assortment of weapons for Kenny Pickett. Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren at RB, George Pickens, Diontae Johnson, Robinson, and Austin at WR, and Freiermuth and Washington at tight end along with an improved offensive line. It’s a recipe for success no matter where Freiermuth is ranked by the pundits.

You can check out the full clip of Heyward’s show below.


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