Through two seasons in the NFL, Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Pat Freiermuth has quickly ascended to a star-level role at the position.
Just one of two tight ends in NFL history to have 60+ receptions in each of his first two seasons in the NFL, joining Keith Jackson, Freiermuth has become one of the smartest, most consistent tight ends in the NFL. Now, according to Pro Football Focus, he finds himself squarely in the second tier of players at the position. Labeled as “great with potential to become elite,” he landed at No. 6 overall in PFF’s tight end rankings Wednesday morning.
The consensus is Freiermuth is a top 10 tight end in the NFL, no matter where you look. Last October, Freiermuth ranked No. 7 in the NFL by NextGenStats’ rankings. He believes he’s a top 10 tight end and can reach top 5 in the NFL with a “good season” in 2023.
PFF seems to agree, ranking him sixth overall with the likes of Minnesota’s T.J. Hockenson, Philadelphia’s Dallas Goedert and Atlanta’s Kyle Pitts in the second tier at the position.
“The Steelers trusted Freiermuth in 2021 as a rookie, feeding him 85 targets. In Year 2, that total was boosted to over 100 targets. He finished with the seventh-highest receiving grade in 2022 at 78.3 and continues to be a plus pass protector when asked to do so,” PFF’s John Kosko writes regarding Freiermuth’s ranking.
In his first two seasons, Freiermuth has hauled in 123 passes for 1,229 yards and nine touchdowns. That included a stellar rookie season in 2021 with Ben Roethlisberger under center, hauling in 60 passes for 497 yards and seven touchdowns. In Year 2, Freiermuth increased his receptions to 63 and yards to 732, but the touchdowns didn’t follow as the Steelers had some struggles in the red zone offensively.
That doesn’t take away from the consistency that Freiermuth has put on display in his first two seasons. He’s a trusty tight end, one who catches anything in his vicinity, serving as that true security blanket fir his quarterback. While his blocking is passable, it’s certainly not a strength of his game. With rookie Darnell Washington now in the fold, that likely takes away some of Freiermuth’s responsibilities as an in-line blocker, which could free up Freiermuth even more as a receiver.
Should he crack 60+ receptions for a third season in a row, he’ll have the NFL record all to himself. That type of season could certainly push him closer to the top 5, though the top 3 are already set in stone with Kansas City’s Travis Kelce, San Francisco’s George Kittle and Baltimore’s Mark Andrews.
Make no mistake though: Freiermuth is a burgeoning star, one who is quickly putting himself in the discussion as one of the best tight ends in the NFL, and rightfully so.