Updated: May 4, 2021
(Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
The Steelers addressed the tight end position early in the 2021 NFL Draft by selecting Penn State tight end Pat Freiermuth in the second round. It's the earliest that the Steelers have picked a tight end since drafting Heath Miller in the first round in 2005.
Freiermuth stands at 6-foot-5, 258 pounds, which is the perfect size for an NFL tight end. He's a complete tight end who can excel both in the passing game and run game. Which has been an issue for Steelers' tight ends in recent years, as they succeed in just one area.
Freiermuth appeared in 30 career games and made 26 starts at Penn State, along with being a two-time team captain. Friermuth owns the record for Penn State career touchdown receptions by a tight end with 16, passing Mike Gesicki (15; 2014-17). In addition, he had 92 receptions for 1,185 yards in his career and had a reception in 29-straight games, dating back to the Pitt game on Sept. 8, 2018, which is a school-record among tight ends. Freiermuth frequently made explosive plays as well with 19 career receptions of 20 or more yards during his time at Penn State.
Friermuth was ranked as the second-best tight end in this year's draft and Bucky Brooks of NFL.com believes he can be a Jason Witten-like type of playmaker when it comes to making catches over the middle of the field.
"The most complete "Y" tight end in the draft," Brooks said. "Freiermuth is a nasty in-line blocker with the capacity to move defenders in the running game while also flashing enough quickness to climb to the second level. As a pass catcher, he is a chain mover with soft hands and an uncanny knack for getting open between the hashes. The Penn State product should man the position for a decade in Pittsburgh as a Jason Witten-like playmaker over the middle of the field."
Witten is a future Hall of Famer, so for Brooks to even mentioned Friermuth's name in the same breath is noteworthy. Freiermuth is capable of finally filling in the Heath Miller type of role for the Steelers. He has great hands and is a smooth route-runner. His blocking needs to improve, but that should develop over time. He definitely has the want to when it comes to blocking, however. Freiermuth paired with Eric Ebron should make for a dynamic duo, as both are exceptional route runners and pass catchers. Ebron has never been known to be much of a blocker, which is why the Steelers passed on a couple of talented centers and offensive tackles to get Freiermuth in the second round.