Updated: May 1, 2021
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The Steelers need to draft a tight end this year that's able to block and being a receiving threat. Eric Ebron is not a bad tight end, but he's not a complete player at the position as he can't block efficiently. The Steelers haven't had a tight end that could do both consistently since Heath Miller retired following the 2015 season.
Penn State tight end Pat Freiermuth fits the bill as a tight end that's able to both block and be a dynamic receiver. Freiermuth has great size at 6-foot-5, 260 pounds as well. He has similar attributes to Miller, and he even reminds one longtime NFL draft analyst of the former great Steelers tight end.
"You know who he kind of reminded me of? Greg Cosell said of Freiermuth on the Ross Tucker Football Podcast. It's funny, and the way I do this I sit and study and watch full games, coaching tape, and I don't sit around after I finish a guy and say let me spend 20 minutes thinking of who does this guy remind me of, sometimes someone just pops into my head. You know who he reminded me of? Heath Miller. And Heath Miller played 11 years with the Steelers. Finished with almost 600 receptions. Really solid tight end. I believe he was a first-round pick when he came out of Virginia (Miller was the 30th overall pick by the Steelers in 2005).
"I think Freiermuth is a really good prospect. He's got size, he's got route-running ability. He's got hands, he's got competitiveness. He's not a phenomenal blocker. I think he needs to improve in that area, but he's good enough. He will get better in that area because I think he has want-to and commitment. I think he'll be a guy that's very effective at the next level on third down and in the red zone. And we know how critical those two situations are. I think he can be a boundary X, but I think that'll require some work. I think you'll see him there as he gains experience. But I think he's a really solid prospect. Not a special prospect, but my guess is that you can line him up for 10 years."
Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert were at the Penn State pro day on Thursday and tight ends coach Alfredo Roberts worked out Freiermuth.
Freiermuth said he has known Roberts for a while, according to Nick Farabaugh of Steelers Now.
"You know that's my guy," Freiermuth said of Roberts. "We've met a couple of times. He's a guy I'd really like to play for."
Freiermuth also said that he would love to play for the Steelers and it was an honor to see Tomlin and Colbert watch him at his pro day. Freiermuth also said that he met with Tomlin and Colbert a few days ago.
Below is a scouting report on Freiermuth by The Draft Network.
"Pat Freiermuth projects as an impact receiving tight end at the professional level. Freiermuth has a prototypical build for the tight end position and ample ceiling as a blocker to continue to develop into a quality asset with his hand in the dirt in the run game. But today’s NFL is ultimately rooted in the passing game and tight ends are the new-age mismatch weapons that put defensive play-callers in a bind. Freiermuth can be that caliber of a receiver thanks to his blend of size, hands, route-running, and physicality in the secondary. Freiermuth burst onto the scene as a freshman at Penn State and incrementally became a bigger piece of the passing offense, culminating in 2020 with several high-production contests before a shoulder injury ended his season prematurely and forced him to undergo surgery. The medicals here will be something NFL teams must vet, as well as exploring his lack of development as a blocker. As Freiermuth has developed his body and added muscle during his time at Penn State, the assumption was that he would continue to progress as an in-line blocker; but we never really saw that leap in that chapter of his game, even once he returned for the 2020 season. But Freiermuth’s value to an NFL franchise won’t be rooted in run blocking; it will be in his versatility as a receiver and the mismatches he’ll win in coverage. That is where the value for tight ends lies anyway, so the deductions on Freiermuth’s pre-draft evaluation for blocking are only marginal. He still feels destined to be an impact player in an NFL offense."