By Andrew Malkasian
Pat Freiermuth Links
Overview of Pat Freiermuth
Pat Freiermuth was very clearly the second-best tight end in this draft. However, that’s in no way a slight to his abilities and talent. Philadelphia product Kyle Pitts was clearly the best Tight End prospect available, and his talent was evidenced by this selection by the Atlanta Falcons with the 4th selection overall. While Pat was ranked behind Pitts, I think there is tremendous upside to his game. As he showed at Penn State, he really exemplified his pass catching abilities breaking Mike Gesicki school record for most TD’s by a tight end despite missing a good chunk of time last year. The contrarian will point out Freiermuth’s weaknesses with blocking, but few also recognize that the NFL is also a place in which players can expand their games and solidify weaknesses. There are reasons 4th, 5th, and 6th round players manifest a less than ideal college career into something worthy of a bronze bust. In short, Steelers fans have a lot to look forward to!
Strengths of Freiermuth
Pat Freiermuth is an offensive weapon that opponents must account for on every down. Especially, since Big Ben relies on his Tight Ends in a way the requires sure-handedness and a big target. I’m sure as the season progress the connection between him and Big Ben will develop into a serious threat. His hands are going to provide security and assurance on critical downs in big situations. I’m not calling him exclusively a possession receiver, but when the time calls for a big catch, Freiermuth is added value.
Areas for Growth of Freiermuth
Freiermuth isn’t necessarily going to blow you away on the highlight reel. He’s not tremendously physical and no matter how much film you watch, he’s not going to truck a player or lay waste to a defender a la Vance McDonald. While he earned the nickname “Baby Gronk” in college, he’s not nearly as physically domineering as Gronkowski. Granted, Gronkowski also grew into that role. This lack of physicality may provide some sense of why he has room for improvement with his blocking abilities.
How Does Freiermuth Fit Into the Steelers Depth Chart?
Freiermuth is going to find plenty of playing time during his rookie year. While Ebron is in the last year of his contract, he will remain a regular part of offense. With Canada’s offense, I’m interested in seeing how frequently they use a two tight end set. The weapons available to Ben might provide some serious matchup challenges for some defenses.
What Will Freiermuth Contribute in Year One?
Ebron dropped a lot of balls in critical points last year. I don’t want to dismiss his value, but perhaps having a large reliable target on the other side of the line may be a relief to Ebron in the long term. Rather than seeing Freiermuth as an obvious competitor, there’s a chance that Ebron won’t feel the burden of being the top option off the line.
Steelers Comparable Player
The similarities to Heath Miller are going to come quickly and have started already. However, his sure handedness reminds me a lot of Hines Ward. In a short critical third down, Hines was always a viable option for a tough conversion. Currently, I don’t know how comparable Pat’s game is to other players on the roster. He’s more sure-handed then Ebron, but less explosive than Claypool. I think he’s a unique player who will carve out his own legacy with the Black and Gold.
What Did This New Steeler Study?
At Penn State Freiermuth studied Labor and Human Resources. You can learn more about this program HERE.
Yay, Nay, or OK?
Mel Kiper and his ilk think this pick was a reach, they think the Steelers needed to address other areas of concern, particularly the offensive line and the edge rushers with this pick. Kiper is a respected analyst, but as long as he remains a Raven shill, I’ll refrain from seriously considering anything he has to say. As far as I’m concerned, this was a huge windfall for the steelers, especially going into a year where the window on Big Ben is closing quickly.