Pat Freiermuth Snubbed In PFF’s Top 25 Under 25 List, Beaten Out By Kyle Pitts

The month of May: a dreaded time in the NFL calendar when news outlets create reactionary content to stir up the masses. 

Well, consider me stirred.

PFF recently released an article outlining the 25 best players in the league under the age of 25. To qualify the player must be under the designated age by the start of the 2023 season. 

Truthfully, there’s not much to debate when you look at the top of the list. Micah Parsons, Justin Jefferson, and Ja’Marr Chase are some of the headliners early on with many other worthy names filling out the list. It isn’t until we get to the back end of the rankings that Steelers fans may begin to raise their proverbial eyebrows. 

Ranked #21 is Atlanta Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts. A true unicorn when entering the NFL by way of the University of Florida in 2021, Pitts was compared to the likes of Hall-of-Famer Calvin Johnson. The hype matched the draft position after being selected fourth overall by the Atlanta Falcons. Here’s Trevor Sikkema’s rationale behind the ranking

The narrative around Pitts makes it difficult to appropriately rank him among the other young players in the league. The expectations around Pitts were that he was going to be one of the greatest tight ends we’ve ever seen the week he was drafted. He finished his rookie season with an 82.3 receiving grade and more than 1,000 receiving yards. This past year, he earned just a 76.6 receiving grade, albeit in an injury-shortened season. He dealt with hamstring injuries early in the year and tore his MCL in Week 11. A healthy Pitts still has one of the highest ceilings of any tight end.

The tight end has yet to reach the production of the legends he had been compared to in his NFL career. While he was selected to a Pro Bowl in his first season and broke 1,000 yards receiving, he scored a mere one touchdown after being tabbed as a mismatch nightmare in the red zone. Last season was even less fruitful for Pitts as he gained just 356 yards on 28 receptions and two touchdowns. The 6-6, 246-pounder did play in only 10 games, but his pace would still put him far behind his marks a season ago. 

Omitted from the list entirely is a player Pittsburgh fans lovingly call “Muthhhhhhhhh.” Pat Freiermuth was the second tight end selected in the 2021 NFL Draft behind Pitts but has had a more productive career thus far. 

Freiermuth has more receptions (123 to 96), and touchdowns (9 to 3) than Pitts while being about 100 receiving yards shy of him for his career. 

Last season the Penn State product ranked top 10 in the NFL in targets, receptions, and receiving yards; Pitts did not crack the top 20 in any category. 

Additionally, Pitts is used as a pseudo-wide receiver, rarely being placed in line to block. While he’s no George Kittle, Freiermuth continues to improve as a blocker and will be relied on even more this season in a 12-personnel. His PFF blocking grade is proof of this as Freiermuth once again surpassed Pitts’ score to the tune of 59.6 to 52.2. Freiermuth’s steady improvement from his rookie season where he scored a 53.6 is the inverse of Pitts who declined with a rookie score of 55.6. 

Perhaps the most damning evidence as to why Freiermuth may have a better case to be on this list is from PFF itself. According to the source, the Steelers tight end outplayed Pitts scoring a 75.5 overall grade, while Falcons tight end scored a 72.7.

Neither player has had stability from their teams to start their career as both dealt with multiple quarterbacks and non-featured roles in their respective offenses. However, based on their production and PFF grades it is head-scratching that Freiermuth was not included on the list at all. 

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