(Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Pat Freiermuth had an impressive rookie campaign last year, as he recorded 60 receptions for 497 yards and seven touchdowns, all of which came in the red zone. According to Pro Football Focus, Freiermuth's seven red zone touchdowns were the third-most among rookie tight ends since 2006, behind just Rob Gronkowski's nine in 2010 and Hunter Henry's eight in 2016.
However, the Penn State product wasn't pleased with one area of his play -- his 8.2 yards per catch average. Fellow rookie tight end Kyle Pitts led the league among tight ends with 15.2 yards per reception. Travis Kelce averaged 12.2, Mark Andrews (12.7), George Kittle (12.8) and Gronkowski (14.6).
"I think my yards per average was atrocious. In my opinion, 8.2 yards, that is pretty bad on my end," Freiermuth said at OTAs on Wednesday. "I think if I have 60 catches, I should be more in the range of 800-900 yards. I think I definitely need to get that higher and maybe we push the ball downfield more this year."
While Freiermuth wants to improve his yards per reception average, it really wasn't his fault that his numbers were so low last year. It had more to do with the Steelers' passing game. With Ben Roethlisberger lacking mobility and not having the arm strength he once had, the Steeles relied on a dink-and-dunk offense and rarely ever used the middle of the field. That was really the case for Roethlisberger's final two seasons with the Steelers. With Roethlisberger retired now, hopefully, the Steelers have a more vertical passing game. If so, Freiermuth's yards per catch numbers should drastically change.