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While Penn State tight end Pat Freiermuth certainly felt like a Pittsburgh Steelers kind of player, it was still somewhat surprising to see him taken with their second-round selection. Most assumed the Steelers would go with an offensive lineman, however, Freiermuth provides some much-needed physicality to the Pittsburgh tight end group.
With one year remaining on Eric Ebron's contract and following Vance Mcdonald's retirement, now was a prudent time to address the tight end position. Freiermuth should be able to step in on Day 1 and assume McDonald's blocking role with the chance to grow into more receiving opportunities as the season develops.
While Freiermuth doesn't have the physical traits to live up to his "Baby Gronk" moniker, he does have the toughness and Football IQ to become a good NFL starter and fan favorite.
He's blocking on this pass play, but check out Freiermuth's heavy hands. He stops the rusher dead in his tracks upon impact.
If the Steelers really do trust Chuks Okorafor and Zach Banner as their Week 1 tackles (which they seem sincere about), Freiermuth is the perfect addition to the end of the line. He likes to finish blocks, too.
As a receiver, Freiermuth offers a very friendly frame for quarterbacks. He isn't necessarily the fastest or most athletic, but Freiermuth has ideal size and has a knack for getting open. According to PFF, Freiermuth did not drop a single red zone pass in his three seasons at Penn State.
Freiermuth amassed 92 receptions for 1,185 yards and 16 touchdowns in 29 games as a Nittany Lion, winning the 2020 Kwalick-Clark award as the Big Ten's best tight end.
Here he is on 3rd and 8 split out as a wide receiver. He uses his size to create leverage against the smaller corner and finds a patch of grass for the first down. This kind of potential is something that should really excite the Steelers.
Expect Freiermuth's role in the offense to expand as he gains trust from Roethlisberger. At 6 ft 5 in and 258 lbs, Freiermuth has the exact body type NFL teams are looking for in their modern tight end.
Currently, Freiermuth needs to refine his route running in order to become a more consistent threat in the passing game. If he does, we should see him making plays like this, dominating cornerback in man coverage for a touchdown.